POSTED: February 22 2021
Hiding mental ill-health

Hiding mental ill-health

Employers will need to be more vigilant as a new report highlights that Employees are hiding mental health conditions from managers during the pandemic. Just 14% surveyed had revealed mental health concerns to their managers, with a third telling no one.

Employees are keeping silent about their mental health conditions at work during the global pandemic, despite the fact that work has been a contributing factor for many, new research from Bupa and Business in the Community (BITC) has found.

The study of 3,614 employees by Business in the Community in partnership with Bupa and the BITC Wellbeing Leadership Team found that just 14% of workers disclosed to their manager that they were suffering from a mental health issue. And a third (30%) of people who have experienced work-related mental ill-health have told no one, with men significantly more likely to keep their condition a secret (35%) compared with women (26%).

Even during a global pandemic, work-related pressure was identified as the most common cause of mental health issues (51%), while another 35% put symptoms down to workload, long hours, and not taking enough leave. A third (31%) of participants said that their mental ill-health was caused by not being supported in their role, potentially an indication of their reluctance to share their circumstances.

Mark Allan, Commercial Director at Bupa UK Insurance said: “Although mental health has come to the fore during the global pandemic, and addressing these issues is a priority for many businesses, the research shows that a good number of employees feel uncomfortable turning to their manager for help. Whilst businesses around the country are focused on creating cultures that are open about mental health it can be difficult for workers, especially when working remotely, to have these kinds of complex conversations.

Encouragingly, although 41% of workers experienced work-related mental health symptoms in the last year, almost two thirds believe that their employer has recognised the challenges posed by COVID-19. Half (50%) feel that their organisation has good mental health support, so whilst COVID-19 has increased the amount of mental health issues experienced on the whole, only 9% of respondents felt that a lack of support during COVID-19 had caused mental health issues related to work.

In line with these findings BITC and Bupa are encouraging organisations to continue to prioritise employee wellbeing as workers face more uncertainty as the pandemic continues.

Louise Aston, Wellbeing Director at Business in the Community, said: “Businesses need to be aware that excessive workplace pressure and workload may be causing mental health issues. When we are at work, we don’t expect to be physically injured and nor should our mental health be harmed. This inequality needs to be addressed by employers protecting mental health and safety and enhancing the wellbeing of everyone through better ways of working. Now is the time to prioritise wellbeing for all by enshrining ways of working that tackle the systemic root causes of poor mental health, create cultures of trust and belonging, where everyone feels safe to speak up and be actively listened to.

If you need more support in looking after your employees then advo can help. Email to start a conversation.


You can view the Bupa & Business in the Community in partnership research here.

You can read Bupa’s press release in full here including steps they are taking for their members to improve access to mental health support.