Despite persistent stigma, workers are optimistic about the future of mental health in the workplace

Updated: Feb 12


The majority of workers feel positive about how their employers will approach mental health management in the future, according to a new survey.


Since the Coronavirus pandemic began, reports have indicated increasing levels of stress, anxiety, depression and damaging coping mechanisms among workers.


As a result, providing improved mental health support for employees has become a top priority for businesses around the world.


Conducted by CoursesOnline, the Covid & Mental Health at Work survey reveals an optimistic attitude among workers regarding their employers efforts to provide such services.


The survey included workers from 300 businesses from across the country, 66% of whom think that more time and resources will be dedicated to supporting their mental health in the workplace in future.


Most employers of the workers involved in the survey have already made changes suggesting this too with 60% having already implemented new mental health policies in response to COVID-19.


Of the 60%, assigning responsibility for such matters to an employee or external specialist was the most popular approach (37%), followed by increasing time off for employees for mental health concerns (10%) and placing emphasis on discussions between staff and management (13%).



Read more: 'Always on' culture taking its toll on employees working from home



Despite the optimism of employees, it seems stigmas that surround mental health remain.


Of the 90% of respondents who said they would talk to someone if they had a mental health concern, 63% said they would prefer to talk to family or friends before talking to a colleague.


Only 12% said they would talk to their line manager while just 4% said they would talk to a colleague in human resources – a substantially less popular option than talking to nobody at all (10%).


In addition, 40% of employers are still yet to implement any changes in response to COVID-19.


“Rather than continue as though the current situation is just a drop in the ocean, the ongoing crisis should be the catalyst for everyone to reassess their approach to workforce mental health," said General Manager of CoursesOnline, Sarah-Jane McQueen.


"For the 40% of organisations not looking to do more in regards to mental health, there is a strong business case for them rethinking their approach – not to mention that there is a clear expectation from the majority of workers that some form of action is taken.


"Regardless of where or how you operate, mental health issues account for a significant proportion of days off, so I would think that firms would be keen to gain back some of this productivity if nothing else.”


For more data from the Covid & Mental Health at Work survey, click here.