Employees who can speak openly about mental health with managers are less likely to take days off, study published by British Medical Journal suggests
A study of depression in the workplace across 15 countries by Personal Social Services Research Unit has found that managerial mental health support is directly associated with less absenteeism and more presenteeism.
Published in BMJ Open, the report said ‘manager reactions' are ‘at least as important as country financial resources'.
‘This study highlights the importance of effective policies and practices which help managers to actively support employees with depression, including strategies to facilitate better workplace performance,' the report read. ‘The business case for intervention through better managerial response is exemplified by the substantial costs associated with mental health problems and evidence from a number of studies that mental health can improve through workplace programmes, with economic benefits to employers.'
The study also suggests that the benefits of a ‘well-implemented support programme should encourage employers to act,' while ‘early intervention practices' and ‘support for depressed employees' through ‘pathways' are also needed alongside better support and training for managers. Read the full report here.
"Mental illnesses, including depression, have a huge personal and economic impact," said Sara Evans Lacko, associate professional research fellow and co-author of the paper said. "Our research shows that where employers create a culture of avoidance around talking about depression, employees themselves end up avoiding work and even when they return to work they are not as productive as they could be. Such situations could be transformed by managers providing more proactive support to people dealing with these issues."
"The findings from BMJ do not surprise me," said Poppy Jaman OBE, City Mental Health Alliance CEO and international mental health associate. "Mental health is a business critical issue. A sustainable and successful business should have managers who understand, and are skilled in talking about, mental health. Yet research shows that while 76% of line managers believe that employee wellbeing is their responsibility, only 22% have received any form of training on mental health. Continuous training and development for managers in this area has to form a part of any business that wishes to treat its staff well and remain competitive."
More than 70% of people with mental illness actively conceal their mental illness from others for fear of discrimination, the BMJ Open report also pointed out.
"It's also about leading by example - managers can create an inclusive environment by talking openly about their own mental health," said Jaman. "This means that employees who are experiencing mental health issues will be less likely to feel ashamed or fear negative consequences."
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