New research has revealed the state of mental health support in UK businesses, with the majority of business leaders stating support is not available for their employees or is not utilised enough, despite admitting poor mental health impacts business performance.

The survey was conducted by GoProposal, and asked 750 small business owners in the UK, and discovered that over half of businesses (55%) either have no mental health support in place for their employees, or have support processes that aren’t used enough. 

Business owners said the biggest barriers to employees talking about their mental health and stress included the fear of career implications (40%), a heavy workload (38%), the feeling that there is no one to talk to (32%), and even just long working hours (29%), highlighting a long list of obstacles preventing employees seeking support, despite being in need.

Almost half (46%) said they believed the biggest stressor impacting mental wellness in employees was the pressure of making mistakes that cost the business money, followed by over a quarter of people (28%), saying difficult conversations with clients cause the most stress. 

What is the impact of stress within the workplace?

Business owners believe that as a result of increased stress among employees, the biggest impacts are more mistakes and errors in the workplace (44%), lower morale and motivation (44%), and lower productivity and efficiency (41%). 

It is perhaps for these reasons that among those businesses that do have mental health support in place that is utilised effectively, 92 percent said they have seen improvements in performance and productivity among employees.

When it came to the workload, burnout and mental health of business owners themselves, the survey showed how 54 percent have worked long and late hours to keep their business on track and running well, 51 percent have lost sleep due to the stress, 48 percent had taken on multiple roles despite not being qualified to do so, and 47 percent have felt a blurring of home and work life. 

This can inevitably lead to strong feelings of low confidence or motivation, which a third of bosses said they felt, as well as 28 percent who said they felt unsupported or lonely. 

Which part of the country offers the most mental health support?

Regionally, London businesses were found to have the most mental health support in place to combat these issues, with 52 percent of bosses in the capital saying they have processes in place. 

This is followed by the West Midlands (47%) and North East England (46%). Businesses in the East Midlands however are the most under-equipped with mental health support, with just 27 percent saying they have support in place. 

GoProposal spoke to Dr Chloe Mitchell, a BPS Chartered Counseling Psychologist, comments:

“There is no shame in discussing physical health in the workplace. We accept that when a person has a physical health issue they go to a doctor for guidance, prognosis and treatment. The same does not apply to mental health conditions and leaders need to lead the way to normalise mental health discussion. 

“A lot of it is about holding space in the workplace that allows for vulnerable emotions to be seen as human, for conversations about stress, depression, anxiety and grief to be completely normalised and not seen as signs of a loss of talent, or performance.”





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 the 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.