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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness
 Work and mental health

Talking to your employees about their mental health

Building a culture in your organisation where everyone is treated with respect and honest communication is encouraged

The stigma and misconceptions about mental ill-health mean that employees find talking about their mental health difficult to the point that many will avoid raising the issue with their employer for fear of losing their job.  Sadly this isn’t a misconception on the part of people with experience of mental ill-health. 

Some people report immediate loss of interest when they tell a prospective employer about their mental health history. That is why putting the right health and well-being policies into practice during the recruitment process and afterwards is so important and valuable.  Ideally you want to build an ethos and culture in your organisation where everyone is treated with respect and where honest communication is encouraged. 


Links to resources

Scores of British adults avoid talking to their boss about mental health problems out of fear of losing their job or being considered “mad”, new findings suggest.
Rethink is a mental health membership charity which works to help everyone affected by severe mental illness to recover a better quality of life.  It carried out a survey which found that almost 60% of British workers said they would feel uncomfortable talking to their line manager if they had a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.


Mental health and employment

Roy Sainsbury, Annie Irvine, Jane Aston, Sally Wilson, Ceri Williams and Alice Sinclair, 2008

Department for Work and Pensions, Research Report No. 513

This report summarises research carried out by the Social Policy Research Unit and Institute for Employment Studies University of York on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.  It found that there was a perception among employees that employers viewed people with mental health conditions as a ‘risk’ or as unreliable or incapable of coping in their job, and this was a factor in some people’s reluctance to mention a mental health condition to their current, or a potential future, employer.