8 in 10 employers have seen an increase in staff disclosing mental health problems

Kathryn Wheeler
By Kathryn Wheeler,
updated on Oct 22, 2021

8 in 10 employers have seen an increase in staff disclosing mental health problems

Following the pandemic, new research has revealed an increase in the number of employees disclosing mental health problems to HR leaders

In research commissioned by employee experience platform Benefex, a series of online interviews with more than 200 employers has revealed that 87% have seen an increase in the numbers of employees disclosing mental health problems, including 82% seeing staff reporting feelings of loneliness in greater numbers, too.

Of course, this news does not come entirely as a surprise, with numerous studies tracking a nationwide increase in the number of people experiencing mental health problems – many for the first time in their lives. However, it does suggest a certain shift in attitudes surrounding talking about, and supporting, mental health at work.

In this light, the study also found that HR leaders are reporting more of an emphasis on employee wellbeing within their organisations, with 96% revealing that the ‘employee experience’ has become more important during the pandemic. Additionally, 83% shared that they are planning to increase investment around employee wellbeing, including increased spending on diversity and inclusion initiatives, and employee benefits.

How to talk about mental health at work

Talking about mental health at work can be challenging, even within open, supportive environments. If you feel uneasy about opening up to your boss, try:

  • Talking to your GP first
  • Set your boundaries
  • Confide in a colleague or HR
  • Consider what you need
  • Set up regular check-ins
  • Suggest wellbeing activities

Read more about how to talk about mental health at work, here.

“Wellbeing has emerged as a critical part of the employee experience, and the pandemic has clearly accelerated this trend. Many employers have, for the first time, realised their responsibilities in preventing and supporting poor mental health as much as they can,” said Gethin Nadin, director of employee wellbeing at Benedex.

With a look to the future, the study found 87% of HR leaders predict that the best-performing companies will have a ‘head of employee experience’ within the next years, with 86% expecting that most organisations will have dedicated employee wellbeing resources.

While it’s important to recognise the loss and distress caused by the pandemic, we can also recognise the opportunities that are set to rise from it, too. And amongst those opportunities is a new attitude to mental health and wellbeing within workplaces, and a question of what can employers do to better support those in their organisations?

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