Mental-health stigma still entrenched in workplace: study

While society at large is promoting conversations around mental health, stigma is still entrenched in the workplace, according to a new survey by Teladoc Health Inc.

The survey was conducted in four countries —Australia, Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. — with 3,894 total participants and 964 in Canada.

It found 27 per cent of respondents said they’re afraid of disclosing mental-health issues in the workplace. In Australia, Canada and the U.K., this was up to 32 per cent. And the overall rate, at 38 per cent, was higher among respondents who had already been diagnosed with a mental-health condition. However, the same percentage (27 per cent) of respondents said they disclosed a mental-health diagnosis at work.

Read: Specific solutions required to move dial on mental-health treatment, costs

“Our study confirms that stigma surrounding mental health not only exists in the workplace but is deeply rooted,” said Jason Gorevic, chief executive officer at Teladoc Health, in a press release. “With the younger generation fuelling our workforces and necessitating leaders to take action, the time is now to tackle this pressing global issue.”

More than half (55 per cent) of respondents said they wouldn’t share their mental-health issues in the workplace because they’re afraid of how it would impact their position. However, 33 per cent said they would, in the future, tell someone at work if they had a poor mental-health episode.

Among Canadian respondents, the study also found a third (34 per cent) of those who’ve had one mental-health episode didn’t seek out professional help, while a quarter (24 per cent) who had multiple mental-health episodes didn’t seek out help either.

Read: Why you should hire a mental-health co-ordinator

The survey asked if the workplace was a stressor and an issue behind respondents’ poor mental health, with 29 per cent saying they’ve felt burnt out at work and 20 per cent reporting they’ve lost sleep as a result of work-related issues.

More than half (56 per cent) of all respondents and 55 per cent in Canada said they believe they’d be more productive at work if there were better supports within the workplace for mental-health issues. Some 28 per cent of respondents felt their employer doesn’t take mental health seriously.

However, 50 per cent of respondents said executives talk about their own mental-health issues, which “encourages employees to feel more comfortable about their own mental health.”

“We’ve seen it firsthand with our own global workforce — employees want leaders to lead, to set the dialogue in motion around mental health and normalize the conversation,” said Gorevic. “For employers and employees alike, there is substantial health and economic value in getting individuals the right diagnosis, action plan and support needed to be well and productive in life and at work.”

Read: Workplace stress on the rise as mental-health stigma declines: survey