Despite increased conversations around mental health, ongoing challenges continue to significantly impact the UK workforce.

According to new research from The Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health (GBC), more than half of UK employees (55%) are dealing with ongoing mental health issues or have faced them in the past.

The report reveals that mental health struggles are widespread across various sectors and roles, with 53 percent of blue-collar and 57 percent of white-collar workers reporting such experiences.

Younger generations are particularly affected, with 68 percent of Gen Z and 60 percent of Millennials acknowledging current or past mental health challenges. In contrast, the figures are slightly lower among Gen X (52%) and Boomers (32%).

The research emphasises the critical role of senior leadership in addressing mental health in the workplace. Only 38% of UK employees believe their organisation’s leaders discuss mental health at work.

However, in environments where leaders are vocal about mental health, 85 percent of employees feel their employer cares about their wellbeing, compared to just 34percent in workplaces where leaders remain silent. Moreover, employees are less likely to consider quitting when mental health is openly addressed (22% versus 32%).

Where are mental health challenges most prevalent?

GBC’s comprehensive study, which surveyed over 12,200 employees across 12 countries, underscores the global nature of this issue. It also highlights that mental health challenges are more prevalent among marginalised groups, with 85 percent of neurodivergent individuals, 77 percent of those with disabilities, and 62 percent of LGBTQIA+ employees reporting such struggles.

Work-related stress is a significant factor, with nearly half (45%) of UK workers citing stress at work and over a quarter (28%) saying their workload undermines their mental health. Mental health issues also directly impact workplace performance, leading to reduced productivity, motivation, and increased desire to quit among affected employees.

Mental health conversations need to be had

The report calls for increased investment in training for managers, as their ability to handle mental health conversations significantly influences employees’ experiences. While 63 percent of employees believe their manager would be supportive, only 45 percent of managers have received dedicated mental health training. Poorly equipped managers contribute to higher rates of low motivation and desire to quit among their teams.

Poppy Jaman OBE, Chair of GBC and Founder and Executive Vice Chair of MindForward Alliance, emphasised the importance of senior leaders in fostering supportive workplace cultures. “The more senior leaders speak up about mental health, the more we can build, foster, and embed supportive cultures in workplaces,” Jaman said. “Addressing workers’ mental health and wellbeing is a business and societal imperative.”

Emma Codd, Global Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Deloitte, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the positive impact of leadership on reducing stigma and improving workplace mental health.

GBC is urging senior leaders worldwide to sign its Leadership Pledge and join the movement towards better workplace mental health, aiming to create a healthier, more resilient global workforce.

 

 

 

 

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Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.