Businesses are less likely to hire employees suffering from mental health problems if they are older, according to one health professional.

Dr Rick Norris, a chartered psychologist and author of Think Yourself Happy, believes that older people face more obstacles when applying for jobs, which could lead to age discrimination in the workplace.

“I think there is an expectation that the older we get, the more we ought to be able to deal with life events,” he said.

“Some people see it as a weakness, so therefore they might be prepared to excuse younger people simply because they are younger. Whereas later on in life, I do feel there is still a little bit of a stigma therefore employers are less likely to want to make exceptions for individuals suffering from mental health issues.”

In the current economic climate many employees are suffering from increased levels of stress and anxiety driven by fears over job security, rising living costs and increased workloads.

A recent Kenexa survey found that 35 per cent of the UK employees polled reported suffering from unreasonable levels of stress at their workplace.

With the potential for depression and mental health problems reaching higher levels, businesses are currently being encouraged to do more to monitor employee mental well-being as part of their inclusion policies.

Karen Jackson, solicitor and managing partner at didlaw, explained to the Chartered Management Institute that poor mental health can have a damaging impact on employees’ productivity, which can affect company output overall.

She said: “In terms of more desk-based jobs, it is a question of something that might [usually] take you ten minutes, might take you an hour.”

According to Ms Jackson the symptoms that employers should watch out for are a short temper, poor memory and an inability to concentrate, all of which are associated with sleep problems and may indicate stress or anxiety.

If these issues are identified and dealt with early by employers, there is less chance that they could lead on to more serious mental health problems.