Over two-fifths of organisations have reported an increase in mental health problems

Despite growing awareness of the issue, the proportion of organisations seeing an increase in poor mental health has topped 40% for the sixth year running

Over two-fifths of organisations have reported an increase in mental health problems

Working for long hours in a busy environment can be very stressful for employees. But whilst it’s not uncommon for some workers to long for Friday and dread Monday morning, it seems the number of employees developing debilitating mental health problems is continuing to increase at a pace. According to research from the CIPD, a significant proportion of organisations have yet again seen an increase in reports of poor mental health.

Produced in conjunction with Simplyhealth, the CIPD Absence Management survey revealed that two-fifths (41%) of organisations have seen an increase in reported mental health problems over the last year. This seems to continue a rather worrying trend: whilst in 2009 only 24% of organisations reported an increase, 2015 has been the sixth year running in which over 40% of businesses have reported an increase. And although small businesses certainly are seeing a rise in reports of poor mental health, it is medium- and large-sized organisations that have seen the most significant increases, with 51% and 69% respectively showing a rise.

Despite there being a growing awareness of mental health, many organisations are lacking the training required to manage and support employees with mental health problems, especially within the private sector. Only 32% of private sector organisations currently offer a counselling service compared to 70% of the public sector; even worse 28% of those in the private sector admitted they weren’t taking any action to support employees at all. Additionally, it seems the public sector is much better at raising awareness of mental health issues across the whole of their workforce compared to those in the private sector; just 21% of businesses commit time to highlight the problems caused by poor mental health compared to 41% of public sector organisations.

Ben Willmott, head of the public policy at the CIPD, said: “Unfortunately, this year’s survey shows the number of reported mental health problems has increased for many employers and, after over half a decade at these levels, we can’t afford to let this issue continue to grow any longer. As a nation we’re getting better at opening up the conversation around mental health but there is still a long way to go.”

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, said: “Given how prevalent poor mental health is among staff, employers can no longer afford to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to tackling the causes of stress and poor mental health for their employees.”

Though it seems that awareness of mental health is spreading, it’s clear that there’s still plenty employers can do to tackle poor mental health in the workplace. 

Jess Mackinnon
Jess Mackinnon

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