Scots employers urged to lead over mental health issues

Nearly a quarter of Scottish workers would not discuss a mental health problem at work for fear of the reaction from co-wokers, a survey has found.

The YouGov survey also found that only 30 per cent of those surveyed believed their manager cared about their mental well-being. Picture: Thinkstock

Newly published figures from a YouGov survey of 1,165 Scottish workers found only 30 per cent think their manager cares about their emotional well-being, while 23 per cent would not discuss a mental health problem if they had one for fear of the reaction from others.

The survey was commissioned by See Me, the national programme to end mental health discrimination, which is calling on employers to improve the way depression and mental health is approached in work.

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The Scottish Parliament Information Centre found 640,000 working days were lost to depression last year, costing the economy £54.6 million.

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The See Me in Work Programme is aimed at making workplaces more open to discussion of mental health conditions.

Accountant Joseph Bannatyne is supporting the scheme after his own experience of being told he was “running out of time” by an occupational health therapist when he experienced depression.

Mr Bannatyne, 34, from Glasgow said: “I was always the guy who appeared to be on top of things and it was that sense of losing credibility that stopped me from having the courage to tell anyone.

“I was working for a small high-profile company and I worried that people would think I wasn’t coping with the workload. I kept a lot of things private from many people, due to a fear of people’s reaction and judgment.”

When he did tell his employer they arranged for him to see an occupational health therapist but he said he left feeling “interrogated”.

Mr Bannatyne said: “The conversations all focused on my contract and they kept telling me that I was ‘running out of time’ and that isn’t a good term to use with someone who is experiencing depression and anxiety. It was a very dangerous experience I had and one that no one else should have to endure.”

Lisa Cohen, See Me’s national programme manager, said: “Employers need to take the lead and make sure people feel safe and supported to speak about mental health in work. They have a legal and moral responsibility to look after the health and well-being of everyone who works for them.”