Many situations over the past years caused an increase in anxiety in the workplace. So much so that mental health is becoming a priority for HR managers and employers.
However, employees are still scared to talk about their mental health issues with their bosses.
In a survey of 1,000 American employers, the mental health app Wysa reported that most respondents prefer to tell their employers they were physically sick or work through the pain rather than admit they needed a day off for mental health.
The study’s key findings included the following revelations:
- The younger workforce is suffering greater symptoms of stress and are in need of more attention and support from employers. Almost half (47%) of Gen Zs said they were struggling with clinical anxiety. Meanwhile, 41% of people older than 55 said they weren’t too stressed about work, compared to only 18% of those between the ages of 25 to 34.
- Workers do not get mental health support. One-third of respondents who have moderate to severe symptoms have not received help. Half of the women who suffer don’t reach out. And 42% of respondents said they don’t get help because they don’t have time.
- Several of them are suffering in silence. 42% of employees said they have anxiety that their employer doesn’t know about, 38% said they had depression their employer doesn’t know about, and 26% said they suffer in silence about insomnia.
- Most are lying about needing mental health days. Only 20% of workers have told their employer they are taking time off for mental health. Nearly one-third say they are physically ill, while 42% plow on regardless.
These findings speak to the still prominent sensitivity to mental health topics at work. Despite increased awareness and a growing expectation of support, employers are still in the dark about what to do.
However, silence on the employee’s part may also be due to psychological disorders still being misunderstood as a taboo.
People who are mentally ill are often afraid and ashamed to talk about it, especially with their colleagues or supervisors. This silence prevents them from taking time for themselves, which reinforces their initial psychological suffering.
Wysa co-Founder Ramakant Vempati wrote in the report, “As it stands, too many people feel compelled to lie about taking time off when their mental health is affecting their ability to work.”
“Even those suffering symptoms of moderate anxiety or depression don’t feel comfortable letting their managers know. We can’t let this continue to be the elephant in the room, it’s time to start talking about it,” he added.
And, as such, employers should be proactive in addressing mental health in the workplace. Putting emphasis on the importance of prioritizing oneself could help employees stay truthful about their health concerns and help companies retain mentally healthy individuals in their workforce.