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Number of workers coming forward with mental health problems “encouraging”, says study

Almost a third of employers have reported an increase in the number of staff taking time out for mental health reasons, a new study has revealed.

The research, published by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and insurer Aviva, suggests that more workers than ever are open to discussing the idea of mental health and recognising the need to take time out and perhaps seek treatment.

The findings also suggest that employers are doing more to support workers who have mental health issues. According to the report, 36 per cent of employers have taken steps to review individual workloads to reduce stress, while 35 per cent have considered flexible working times.

Other steps include organising counselling for staff (20 per cent) and training for managers to better support staff (18 per cent).

Adam Marshall, BCC Director General, said: “As the world of work changes, it is absolutely crucial for business leaders to pay ever closer attention to the health and wellbeing of their employees – especially at a time when firms are facing severe challenges finding and retaining the skilled staff they need.”

But there is more work to be done, he added. The study highlights that almost half (49 per cent) of employers said occupational health support from external bodies was not available, while 10 per cent were not aware of any support at all.

“While legions of firms are now more aware of mental health concerns and acting accordingly, far too many businesses are still turning a blind eye to this issue, which saps productivity, morale and individual wellbeing. Our message today is that it is no longer acceptable for firms to ignore mental health in the workplace, and all companies need to step up their game,” said Mr. Marshall.

Dr. Doug Wright, medical director at Aviva, added: “It is encouraging to see that more businesses are not only more aware of the topic of mental health in the workplace but also actively offering initiatives like flexible working options to help encourage a healthy work-life balance.”

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