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Calls for end to stigma around mental health sick days

Monday 24th July 2017
With one-third of UK workers suffering from mental health conditions, how can the stigma around mental health sick days end? Image: JackF via iStock
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Over one-third (34 per cent) of workers in the UK have suffered from stress, anxiety or depression, according to the results of a recent survey.

Research published by PwC shows that 39 per cent of employees have had to take time off from their jobs or reduce their responsibilities due to poor mental health, but almost one-quarter (23 per cent) of workers said they felt their organisation did not take their mental health and wellbeing issues seriously.

In addition, 39 per cent of respondents admitted that they did not feel comfortable telling their boss why they needed to take time off when absence was required due to their mental health.

As a result, this indicates that mental health support workers and others in the industry could have a key role to play in helping to end some of the stigma that surrounds mental health in the workplace.

Recently, there has been some discussion in the media about whether or not 'mental health sick days' should be allowed. These debates were sparked by US web developer Madalyn Parker, who emailed her colleagues letting them know that she was taking a day off to focus on her mental health.

This prompted a response from workers across the globe, who expressed their support to Ms Parker, while questioning why an allowance for this is not the norm across more organisations.

Speaking to BBC News, Madeleine McGivern, head of workplace wellbeing at mental health charity Mind, said: "If you're not in a supportive environment, if you do disclose a mental health problem, it can be really harmful to you.

"If you are unwell for any reason, you should be able to work in a place where you feel you can say 'I'm unwell today because I've got an inflamed back' or 'I've got really high feelings of anxiety at the moment' - they're actually the same thing."

Written by Angela Newbury

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