Almost half of UK employees whose colleagues have taken time off work due to stress think it's not real according to research from Westfield Health.
Almost half (45%) of employees who have never experienced a mental health issue do not understand stress to be ‘real' and believe it is an excuse for people to have time off work.
The findings, from the ‘Mental Resilience' survey of 2,000 UK working adults was conducted by health insurer Westfield Health to mark Stress Awareness Month (April).
Dave Capper, executive director at Westfield Health said: "A lack of understanding and common misconceptions around stress prevent it from being recognised as a real issue in the workplace and addressed effectively.
"Stress can arise as a result of situations or events that put pressure on us, or our reaction to being placed under pressure. It can lead to mental health problems, or be a result of them.
"Stress Awareness Month is an important opportunity to tackle misunderstanding around the issue and raise awareness of the causes and cures, particularly in the workplace.
"Furthermore, 56% of people feel that the term ‘mental health' is too broad and its meaning is unclear. The term is perceived as covering up a multitude of issues, and it's not always believed to be genuine.
"Workplaces need to find a new language when talking about both mental health and stress. For half of employees surveyed, the term ‘emotional fitness' resonated more and was viewed less negatively.
"Changing how we talk about mental health and stress could help pave the way to getting people talking about these issues more openly.
"Once there is more understanding and openness, employers will be better placed to address these issues in the appropriate way."