A new survey from Bupa has revealed that, while most Australian workers believe their employer cares about their mental health, a significant number who have experienced a mental health issue said they felt penalised for talking about it at work.
According to the survey, released to coincide with World Mental Health Month, 81 per cent of Australian workers agreed their employer cares about the mental health of their workers. Yet it also showed 43 per cent of people to have lived with a mental health issue said they felt penalised for talking about it at work.
According to Dr Paul Bates, Bupa chief medical officer, “At first glance, these results look very positive on how mental health is viewed and managed within the workplace.
“Most workplaces have policies in place and training for staff and managers to handle mental health, 69% of all workers believed their manager would know how to support them if they were affected by mental health and three quarters of workers believed they would know how to support a colleague.
“However, while there was increased awareness of mental health among workers and managers, those who had experienced mental health issues felt less comfortable.
“We saw a significant number of people feeling penalised for raising mental health as an issue in the workplace, with half of them believing they would be overlooked for promotion and almost the same number for a pay rise.
“Even the idea of requesting time off due to mental health saw 60% of workers worry about possible consequences.
“We’ve come a long way and the subject is far less taboo than it was only a few years ago, but clearly there is more work we can do. Workplaces where there were mental health policies and training programs received higher scores than those that didn’t. The call to action here is for workplaces to put the steps in place to make handling mental health the same as any other issue,” added Dr Bates.