One in four UK employees are hiding mental health challenges from their employers, finds QBE

One in four (25%) UK employees are hiding mental health challenges from their employers and nearly a third (31%) say they would not feel comfortable disclosing a mental health issue to their employers, according to research by QBE.

Almost a third of workers (29%) are currently struggling with their mental health, with younger workers more likely to say they are struggling than older workers (35% of 18-34 year olds versus 16% aged 55+).

The research, carried out in the run up to World Mental Health Day, found that 34% of workers are concerned about job security, and one in four (25%) feel that disclosing mental health challenges to their employer would put their career at risk.

The survey highlights that actions speak louder than words, with one in four (24%) workers saying that, based on how they’ve seen colleagues with mental ill health treated, they would not be confident disclosing their own mental challenges to their employer. One in five workers (22%) said they did not trust that their employer’s concern about mental wellbeing was genuine.

Adam Shelverton, rehabilitation manager at QBE said: “In this uncertain environment, employees are concerned about job security which may be having a knock-on effect on the way they are addressing their mental health.”

“It is clear from our research that it is not enough for companies to just say the right thing when it comes to mental health, they need to be seen doing the right thing. Businesses lose money when their employees don’t feel safe enough to be honest about their mental health and those workers who are suffering will be watching out for how colleagues in similar circumstances are treated before deciding whether to come forward for help or not. It is encouraging that 30% of workers say they have received good support from their employer but clearly there is much more to be done.”

The financial impact on businesses

Over a fifth (22%) of employees admit to having made mistakes at work recently because they have continued to work instead of taking time off for the sake of their mental health, while 35% admit that their recent performance has fallen short of their usual levels.

In 2019, research carried out by QBE found that when employees continue working instead of taking time off when experiencing mental health issues, it can cost companies an average of £52,000 in lost business or contracts.