New research has revealed the state of mental health support in UK businesses, with the majority of business leaders stating support isn’t available for their employees or isn’t utilised enough, despite admitting poor mental health impacts business performance.
The survey was conducted by GoProposal, and asked 750 small business owners in the UK, and discovered that over half of businesses (55%) either have no mental health support in place for their employees, or have support processes that aren’t used enough.
Business owners said the biggest barriers to employees talking about their mental health and stress included the fear of career implications (40%), a heavy workload (38%), the feeling that there is no one to talk to (32%), and even just long working hours (29%), highlighting a long list of obstacles preventing employees seeking support, despite being in need.
Almost half (46%) said they believed the biggest stressor impacting mental wellness in employees was the pressure of making mistakes that cost the business money, followed by over a quarter of people (28%), saying difficult conversations with clients causes the most stress.
Business owners believe that as a result of increased stress among employees, the biggest impacts are more mistakes and errors in the workplace (44%), lower morale and motivation (44%), and lower productivity and efficiency (41%). It is perhaps for these reasons that among those businesses who do have mental health support in place that is utilised effectively, 92% said they have seen improvements in performance and productivity among employees.
When it came to the workload, burnout and mental health of business owners themselves, the survey showed how 54% have worked long and late hours to keep their business on track and running well, 51% have lost sleep due to the stress, 48% had taken on multiple roles despite not being qualified to do so, and 47% have felt a blurring of home and work life.
This can inevitably lead to strong feelings of low confidence or motivation, which a third of bosses said they felt, as well as 28% who said they felt unsupported or lonely.
Regionally, we found London businesses had the most mental health support in place to combat these issues, with 52% of bosses in the capital saying they have processes in place. This is followed by the West Midlands (47%) and North East England (46%). Businesses in the East Midlands however are the most under-equipped with mental health support, with just 27% saying they have support in place.
GoProposal spoke to Dr Chloe Mitchell, a BPS Chartered Counseling Psychologist, to gain her insight into how to cope and speak about mental health in a business environment: There is no shame in discussing physical health in the workplace. We accept that when a person has a physical health issue they go to a doctor for guidance, prognosis and treatment. The same does not apply to mental health conditions and leaders need to lead the way to normalise mental health discussion.
A lot of it is about holding space in the workplace that allows for vulnerable emotions to be seen as human, for conversations about stress, depression, anxiety and grief to be completely normalised and not seen as signs of a loss of talent, or performance.