stressMany people experiencing stress feel unable to talk about it at work and employers are not doing enough to tackle the problem, according to a survey by mental health charity Mind.

The survey of more than 2,000 workers found that 45% said staff are expected to cope without mentioning stress at work and 31% said they would not be able to talk openly to their line manager if they felt stressed.

The study also revealed a huge difference in the perceptions of managers and other staff about how mental health is addressed in the workplace. Only 22% of workers felt that their boss takes active steps to help them manage stress. Paradoxically, many managers think that they are doing enough to support staff with 68% saying that they would find ways of helping staff who were stressed or experiencing mental ill health.

Other key findings from Mind’s survey include:

• 36% believe that looking after staff mental wellbeing is an organisational priority
• 42% believe that in their workplace stress is regarded as a sign of weakness or that you can’t cope
• Only 32% think time off for stress is treated as seriously as time off for physical illness
• Nearly half (42%) believe that time off for stress is seen as an ‘excuse’ for something else.

Elephant in the room

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “These figures show that stress remains the elephant in the room in many workplaces. It also highlights the worrying disparity between how managers and other members of staff view their organisation’s approach to mental wellbeing. It is vital that managers are equipped with the tools they need to be able to confidently and effectively support their staff, whether they are experiencing stress or mental health problems as a result of work or other factors.

“There is a real danger that companies are neglecting workplace mental health, with huge implications for staff wellbeing; not to mention productivity, motivation and sickness absence. Employers depend on their staff and there are lots of small, inexpensive measures they can put in place to improve wellbeing and make a huge difference to all staff.”