hide mental illness workplace wellness

Do Employees Hide Mental Illness from Employers?

How far will employees go to hide mental illness?

New eye-opening information from the UK provides important insights — and addresses once again reasons why mental and emotional well-being are such important elements of a well-run workplace wellness program.

We recently noted a report published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine that we’ve been covering also addresses the issue. It is titled “Mental Health in the Workplace: A Call to Action Proceedings from the Mental Health in the Workplace: Public Health Summit.”

One key part of the study: The Health and Productivity Burden of Mental Illness. The data help raise awareness for individuals and workplace wellness programs, noting that “individuals with untreated mental illnesses who go to work do so with an illness that impairs them physically, mentally, and emotionally. Statistics related to mental health in general, and in the workplace specifically, are compelling.”

Now Workplace Insights reports that “Workers fake physical sickness to mask mental health issues due to stigma worries.”

The piece references new research and states that “Two fifths (42 percent) of UK employees are calling in sick claiming a physical illness, when in reality it’s a mental health issue.”

It continues:

  • “The survey found that 24 percent of employees worry that if they did need to take a sick day, they wouldn’t be taken seriously.”
  • “Over half (56 percent) of employees admitted to suffering from stress, a third from anxiety (36 percent) and a quarter from depression (25 percent).”
  • “Despite 46 percent admitting that work is the main cause of their health problems, just 15 percent would tell their boss if they were struggling with an issue of this nature.”

The post also gets to the business cost of insufficiently supporting employees who struggle with mental well-being. It states that “the statistics show that just 21 percent of employees receive dedicated mental health support from their employer. Shockingly, this lack of employer support has led to an average of 8.4 sick days taken each year due to a problem.”

Indeed, these data recall the “Mental Health in the Workplace” study’s conclusions on productivity, including:

  • “Research shows that there are more workers absent from work because of stress and anxiety than because of physical illness or injury.”
  • “Further, more days of work loss and work impairment are caused by mental illness than other chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and arthritis.”
  • “Employees with depression report their productivity at 70% of their peak performance, and approximately 32 incremental workdays are lost to presenteeism for individuals with major depressive disorders.”