Managers and mental health issues at work

Managers are failing to recognise signs that their employees may be experiencing mental health issues in the workplace, new research has found. According to the Bupa study, 26 per cent of small business owners are not confident they would be able to identify and address conditions such as stress, depression and general ill health.

According to the investigation, 41 per cent of these bosses never consult their staff members about their health, be it either physical or mental.

And although 55 per cent of employers said they often talk about the weather with workers, just 27 per cent admitted they give staff the opportunity to open up about their general wellbeing.

Dr Jenny Leeser, Clinical Director of Occupational Health at Bupa, stated: "If health issues such as stress are not addressed, employees suffering in silence can lead to small issues becoming bigger problems in the long term and ultimately affecting productivity."

Chartered Psychologist Kate Keenan says:

"Issues relating to workplace stress and other mental health difficulties can arise in small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), simply because they are small businesses. The employer is usually very much hands-on and task-oriented, typically working on tight margins and slender resources. The amount of ‘slack’ in the working day is often minimal, so the last thing that many small business owners want to do is to spend time getting into discussions about staff problems.

"Coupled with this there are quite a few myths around in SME circles, particularly about work-related stress. For example, ‘We don’t have stress here.’ ‘Anyway, stress is good for people, it keeps them on their toes.’ All of these beliefs tend to offer excuses for not doing anything to remedy stressful situations and imply that suffering from stress is somehow a sign of frailty, with the stigma that can accompany it. So it is hardly surprising that managers fail to recognise signs that employees may be experiencing mental health issues in the workplace."