Small business owners in the UK still face an uphill battle to address mental health issues amongst teams, with male employees particularly at risk from mental ill health.
According to research published by charity Business in the Community, men are less likely than women to recognise the symptoms of poor mental health, frequently waiting to reach “crisis point” before taking any action.
In total, the charity found that 83 per cent of the male workforce recognised that work-related stress carried over into their personal lives, as opposed to 72 per cent of female workers.
Men were found to be far less likely to seek support from friends, family or mental health professionals in the event of mental ill health than women – just one of the reasons why the male suicide rate in the UK continues to be three times higher than that of women.
The most at-risk groups are working-class, middle-aged men and those working in male-dominant sectors such as manufacturing, farming or the military.
To mark Men’s Health Week, which runs between 13 and 17 June, the charity has encouraged British men to share their experiences of mental health ill health in the workplace by taking part in a survey intended to transform employers’ approach to mental health issues.
Last month, Business Advice revealed that mental ill health cost British businesses £26bn a year in sickness and absences, whilst research revealed that as many as 40 per cent of British workers believed that their working environment had a damaging effect on emotional wellbeing.
A 2011 mental health summit on employee wellbeing led by the charity Mind concluded that small business owners in particular faced a huge challenge, as limited resources often made it harder for these owners to offer proper, formal mental health support to staff.
In a recent announcement, Mind CEO Paul Farmer said that it was important for all British businesses to foster an inclusive and supportive culture when it comes to workplace mental health.
He said: “One-in-six workers experience depression, anxiety or stress, yet many people still don’t feel comfortable talking about it. Of those who take time off sick with stress, 95 per cent give their employer a different reason for their absence, such as a headache.
“Your workforce should feel able to talk openly about their mental health at work and know that if and when they do, they’ll be met with support, rather than stigma and discrimination. Staff who feel able to speak honestly about their mental health are more likely to seek help sooner.”
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