Over half of UK employees have suffered from mental health issues while in employment, according to research from Canada Life Group.

The research reveals that over half of UK employees have suffered from mental health problems while in employment, and a third say their employer approaches mental health issues in a negative way.

“A worrying lack of understanding around mental health is emerging in the working world. It is crucial for employers to communicate with employees so they understand they won’t be penalised or treated differently if suffering from mental health problems. The sheer lack of awareness of mental ill health in the workplace is a very worrying trend when you consider over 50 percent of people experience these types of problems,” said Paul Avis, Marketing Director of Canada Life Group.

Over one in ten employees say their organisation is dismissive and doesn’t take mental health problems seriously, while 12 percent say their organisation is uncomfortable and awkward when dealing with the subject. A further eight percent say their employer is secretive about mental health, with no-one ever talking about it, thereby adding to the stigma that already exists around the subject.

According to the findings, more than one in ten employees received a negative response after speaking to their employer about mental health issues, and a third of employees believe their organisation provides no support for those experiencing a mental health problem.

A quarter are unaware of the type of support their organisation offers, raising concern about the level of mental health support on offer and whether companies are failing to communicate it effectively.

Occupational health service and counselling services are the most common forms of support to be offered. However, fewer than one in five employees know they have access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which can be invaluable in providing advice and helping to identify and manage problems before they develop into issues that could result in absence from work.

One in five employees would like a trained, designated member of staff to discuss problems with and 19 percent would like counselling services, but only 16 percent want an EAP to be offered, suggesting that employees themselves are unaware of the breadth of support available from EAPs.

“Far too few organisations have a clear programme to support those suffering from mental ill health and even fewer have communicated this effectively to their staff. The prevalence of mental ill health in the workplace shows how important it is that this changes. An Employee Assistance Programme, for example, is a great way of providing support at all stages of working life. Such benefits ensure workers feel valued and provide the necessary support should any problems occur, boosting morale and productivity,” said Avis.