Employees Still Fear Mental Health Stigma

By September 8, 2015HR Research
Employees Still Fear Mental Health Stigma | HR Solutions

Employees are more likely to lie about the reason for an absence if the cause is related to mental health, according to new research.

Research by healthcare provider AXA has revealed that 77% of employees would tell their employer the truth if their absence was due to their physical health. However less than two in five (39%) would tell the truth if they had to call in sick due to stress, anxiety or depression.

It’s a trait shared across businesses of all sizes. Only 37% of SME employees and 44% of employees from larger organisations stated that they would feel comfortable telling their manager the real reason for their absence.

The research also found that 23% of employees would not tell their employer the real reason for any kind of sickness absence they take for fear of being judged poorly. 15% said that they thought they would not be believed if they were honest about the cause of their illness.

Glen Parkinson, SME Director for AXA PPP Healthcare, said: “With managers showing so little understanding of or support for employees suffering from illness it’s not difficult to see why they worry about phoning in sick.”

“Employers need to challenge this blinkered attitude, both for their own benefit as well as that of their workers. In many cases it is more productive for an employee to take a day off to recover from a spell of illness rather than to come into work with diminished productivity.”

A 2014 report into health and the workplace states that mental illness is now the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, with the number of working days lost due to mental health problems increasing by 24% in the five years since 2009.

Greg Guilford, CEO of HR Solutions, said: “With the number of reported mental health problems increasing year on year it’s vital for businesses to start considering employee mental health in the same bracket as employee physical health. This includes removing any stigma towards mental health in the workplace.”

“Prevention is always better than cure. We recommend promoting wellbeing in the workplace and tackling the causes of stress and poor mental health before they lead to absence. By being proactive and creating an open environment for your employees, the less they will feel the need to lie about the real reason for their absence.”


Do you have employee support in place? HR Solutions provide a serviced Employee Assistance Programme. Call us on 0844 324 5840 or contact us online to find out more.

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