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Mental health symptoms? Yes. Comfortable discussing them at work? No

Mental health symptoms? Yes. Comfortable discussing them at work? No
[Photo: Shalom Mwenesi/Unsplash]

Having a mental health issue may be less stigmatized than years ago, but it doesn’t mean employees are actually comfortable discussing their mental health at the office.

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A new study, which explores mental health and stigma in the workplace, finds that close to 60% of respondents had symptoms of a mental health condition in the past year—and the same percentage didn’t discuss it at their jobs. About one-third had symptoms that lasted more than a month.

Most prevalent were symptoms related to anxiety (37%), depression (32%), and eating disorders (26%).

But before a boss thinks, “Why should I care?” know this: The research by Mind Share Partners, SAP, and Qualtrics also uncovered that more than three out of every five participants said their mental health impacted their productivity and more than a third thought work contributed to their symptoms.

Many were not willing to take it anymore. Twenty percent voluntarily left roles in the past for mental health reasons, a statistic that skyrockets to 50% for millennials and 75% for Gen Z.

“Employees feel unequipped and unsupported at work and thus don’t get help,” the researchers write. “Our findings highlight the need for greater leadership support for mental health, companywide awareness and training, and workplace policies and practices that are consistent with this message.”

One’s comfort level discussing mental health had to do, in part, with how big a company it was and what industry it was. For example, a person who worked at a place with 11-50 employees was close to 50% more likely to have done so than someone who works somewhere with more than 10,000 staffers. And in the tech world, negative experiences related to mental health play a bigger role; 55% of tech employees blamed work for their mental health conditions versus 37% of all respondents.

“Experiencing mental health symptoms is the norm in the workplace across all levels of an organization,” the study says. “However, employees aren’t comfortable talking about mental health at work, especially to senior leaders and HR.”

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