Charity Urges Employers to Take Mental Health Seriously as One in Four Leaves Job

Becky Banham
By Becky Banham,
updated on Oct 9, 2018

Charity Urges Employers to Take Mental Health Seriously as One in Four Leaves Job

St John Ambulance reveals the results of its workplace mental health survey and launches mental health summit

One in four people working in human resources and administration has left a job due to mental health problems, research by first aid charity St John Ambulance has found. The survey of 1,000 people also showed that a tenth of employers did not recognise stress as a condition, despite being aware of it as a growing problem. Additionally, more than a quarter (26%) said bosses did little or nothing to help when employees were struggling with stress.

This follows research by the Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association, which indicated that 74% of UK employees have found their ability to concentrate was negatively affected by poor wellbeing.

The findings were revealed as St John Ambulance announced it would host its first national summit on mental health best practice in the workplace this December - just over a year since it began working with Mental Health First Aid England to train people in this area.

The charity has reported a sharp rise in demand for its half, full and two-day mental health first aid courses since they began in 2017. More than 5,000 people are expected to have been trained by St John Ambulance by the end of the year.

The research found a further 43% said they had considered leaving a job due to stress or mental health issues. Also, nearly two-thirds (65%) said they would feel uncomfortable asking for a mental health sick day – with embarrassment being the top reason cited, followed by not liking to take time off work and not wanting to let colleagues down.

In a separate survey, of 800 people who had attended general first aid courses with St John Ambulance, more than half (55%) were unaware that employees had rights if treated unfairly by their bosses on mental health grounds. Nine out of 10 people (94%) felt that organisations should have a mental health policy, yet, less than a fifth (19%) of the organisations where they worked actually had mental health policies in place.

Debbie Adwent, operations manager for St John Ambulance, said: “We believe these results reflect the experiences of the wider workforce and urge employers to take the mental health and wellbeing of their workforce seriously. This latest research, plus the rapidly rising demand for our workplace mental health first aid courses show this is an issue all employers should be getting to grips with.

“Problems arise for people working in all sectors – from finance to education to construction. If not handled well, stress and mental health issues go on to have a serious impact on people in their work as well as private lives.

“As the country’s leading general first aid trainer, we’ve decided to take a lead in helping employers and their staff take care of mental health too.”

While six out of 10 people said they felt their employer should be doing more to address mental health issues, on a more positive note, over a third (37%) said their employer recognised stress as a valid condition and worked to help them resolve issues.

Mental health first aid training is one way employers can provide support to their staff. This training gives people the ability to spot signs of mental illness and the skills to support themselves or others, including how to talk about a subject often seen as taboo.

Headline results from St John Ambulance's workplace mental health survey

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognised training course which teaches people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide help on a first aid basis.

To find out if there's a Mental Health First Aid training session near you, take a look at our events page.

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