How many UK employers have a mental health policy in place?

Employment & Skills | Surveys

Only half of UK employers have a mental health policy in place, despite the fact that 97% of professionals believe their employer has a responsibility to support the mental health and wellbeing of staff.

The results come from a Robert Walters whitepaper ahead of World Mental Health Day on Wednesday 10 October.

Neil Morgan, Associate Director at Robert Walters commented: “Professionals believe (62%) that training for managers as mental health ‘first aiders’ is important – but our research found that only 38% of companies have such a policy in place.

“While formal policies are an important part of an effective mental health strategy, this should not be seen as a tick box exercise for companies. Professionals place a great deal of value on having managers who are aware of this as a general priority and have the capacity to address it effectively.”

Research undertaken by Robert Walters found a disparity between strategies that are considered ‘important’ by employees, and those that are offered by the employer. For example, 74% of professionals ranked the ‘support for staff returning from (mental health related) absence’ highly, whilst only 50% of companies provide this.

Strategies such as remote working, which are widely offered by employers (71%), are considered less important in terms of contributing to mental wellbeing by professionals (60%).

James Murray, Director at Robert Walters commented: “Our survey revealed that over three quarters (76%) of professionals would be ‘uncomfortable’ discussing mental health at their place of work, for fear of damaging their career prospects. This is a major red flag and employers need to step up and consider how prominent a role they can play in encouraging their staff to be more open.

“By taking a proactive approach and leading by example, senior managers can play a key role in helping to develop the culture of their company to encourage discussion of mental wellbeing.”

The tide also seems to be turning on hiring managers, who have been slow to react to the 88% of professionals who consider the mental health policies of a potential employer important when looking for a new role. Just 3% of companies mention their mental wellbeing strategies in job adverts.

42% of professionals admitted to seeking out information about a prospective employers mental wellbeing strategies via review sites, given that the majority of professionals (64%) stated it was ‘difficult’ to find such information on a company website.

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