Nearly half (48%) of business leaders don’t feel their employees would confide in a colleague if they were struggling with their own mental well-being, research from insurer Legal & General shows – even though 84% said that mental health has personally impacted their performance at work.

Encouragingly, 85% of those surveyed said that they had seen improvements over the past five years with regards to discussing mental health in the workplace – with 97% saying the recent increase in coverage of mental health stories from the sporting world had helped to destigmatise the topic.

Attendees at Legal & General’s mental health forum heard from speakers including former HBOS Chairman Lord Dennis Stevenson, Alistair Campbell and Legal & General CEO Nigel Wilson. Sport stars Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Olympic gold medallist Helen Richardson-Walsh also attended to share their personal experiences of mental health.

Nigel Wilson, CEO, Legal & General, said:

“The research from our inaugural event shows how much work still needs to be done. The fact that 84% of those who attended say their mental health has impacted their work demonstrates how prevalent this issue is. It is vital that businesses are able to spot the signs of mental ill-health early on and ensure they have the resources they need to look after any employees who might be suffering.

“Business can learn a lot from the world of sport about dealing with mental health issues, and it was great to hear first-hand from world renowned sport stars about the steps they took to look after their mental health. These accounts offered a strong reminder that mental health should be given exactly as much time and care as physical health.

“Talking about mental health with colleagues is one of the most difficult conversations to have in the workplace, but by working closely with UK businesses and continuing our ‘Not a Red Card’ campaign, we hope to change perceptions and encourage more open conversations between employers and employees.”