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Employees Fear the Stigma Behind Mental Health Issues

March 10, 2021

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

People working from home during the pandemic are experiencing higher levels of stress and withholding mental health conditions from their employer for fear of a negative impact on career progression, according to a new health and safety at work report by Lloyd’s Register.

5,500 employees across 11 countries were surveyed to understand the impact of changing working conditions caused by COVID-19. The report, Employee Well-being During a Pandemic, found that 69% of employees across the globe report higher levels of work-related stress while working from home, driven by increased workloads and changes to working patterns to meet resource demands.

But the even bigger issue is that 48% felt that telling their employer about their stress could have a negative impact on career progression. One in four of those surveyed said that nothing had been done by their employer to provide additional support in terms of mental health and well-being. In fact, 58% felt pressured to return to the office, despite not feeling ready.

Despite these results, working from home has led to an improved work-life balance for more than half (52%) of the respondents. However, 22% felt they are working longer hours than before, 17% feel more isolated from their colleagues, and 9% are more anxious.

The data shows that U.S. employees have enjoyed the opportunity to put work and life in balance—58% felt this has been the defining feature of the shift to working from home. However, this has not led to improvements in work-related stress. In fact, 79% of U.S. employees report stress levels on the rise, 10% above the worldwide figure.  Perceived stigma around mental health is above the norm in the U.S. with 56% of respondents believing that disclosing a concern would negatively affect their future career progression. This is well above the global average of 48%.

Physical Safety Prioritized Over Mental Wellness

A focus on physical safety may have come at the cost of overlooking mental well-being. Over half (52%) of those surveyed felt that their employer places more emphasis on physical safety.

“Many organizations around the world pride themselves on inclusivity and diversity,” said James Pomeroy, Director of Quality, Health, Environment and Safety at Lloyd’s Register. “Now is the time to include mental health as part of this and embracing inclusivity in this way will help revolutionize the way we view well-being in the workplace. This is critical because the pandemic has demonstrated that the health of the workforce is the health of a business.”

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