Survey finds 70% of workers fear disclosing mental health issue to employer

40% of respondents say they have witnessed stigmatising behaviour in the workplace

The research revealed a lack of knowledge among employees about the legislation surrounding mental health in the workplace

The research revealed a lack of knowledge among employees about the legislation surrounding mental health in the workplace

 

Seventy per cent of Irish workers are concerned that that disclosing a mental health issue would impact on their job and lead to them being treated differently by colleagues and managers, according to new research.

Almost half of respondents to a survey by mental health group See Change said they believed disclosing such an an issue would lead to them being passed over for a promotion, with 37 per cent saying they were afraid it would see them excluded from tasks and meetings.

The research found that workers’ fears about disclosing a mental illness were linked to mental health stigma, which See Change seeks to combat.

The study, conducted online among 650 people, found that a fifth of workers believe that mental health stigma was prevalent in their workplace, with 40 per cent of respondents saying they had witnessed some form of stigmatising behaviour in the workplace.

See Change ambassador Adrian Yeates said this came down to “a lack of knowledge or understanding of mental illness”.

“We fear what we don’t know and therefore avoid dealing with issues that might be taboo or ‘too complicated’. Regrettably, some leaders in the workplace still buy into the myth that only ‘strong’ people succeed, so they dare not acknowledge any perceived weakness or vulnerability,” he said.

Many employees said workplaces were noticeably unable to deal with complex mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis.

The research revealed a lack of knowledge among employees about the legislation surrounding mental health in the workplace, with 60 per cent of workers unaware that mental health is covered under legislation and the nine grounds of discrimination under disability.

“While many organisations have made some progress towards ending mental health stigma, it’s clear that there is still a lot of work to be done to alleviate the fear that having a mental health difficulty is detrimental to a person’s career,” said Barbara Brennan, See Change’s programmes leader.