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Does mental illness warrant time off work?

As reported in BACP's Therapy Today (May issue), more than two thirds of senior business managers or business owners don't believe stress, anxiety or depression are sufficient reasons for employees to take time off work.

Research by AXA PPP Healthcare found that only one in five of managers who completed the survey made a connection between mental well being and an employee's capacity to do their job. Instead, one in six expressed concern that employees' mental ill health may reflect badly on their own management style or result in their workload increasing.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, only 39% of employees said they would be honest with employers about reason for absence from work due to stress, with 46% believing that their employer did not take mental health issues seriously.

Dr Mark Winwood, director of clinical psychology at AXA PPP healthcare, says:

"Stress and mental health issues affect one in four people on average in any given year and one in six at any given time."

With stress being commonplace for many, business managers and owners are in the unique position of being able to challenge prejudice and misconception about mental health issues by creating a working environment where employees can be open and feel supported across a wide range of health concerns. I wonder, though, how many will view this challenge as worthy of their engagement?

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