Today is World Mental Health Day, an important opportunity to recognise mental health issues around the world and to also talk about a subject that many people may often feel scared to approach.
It’s estimated that one in six people in the UK will experience a mental health issue over the past week, with up to 10% of people in England experiencing depression in their lifetime. The most common mental health issues are anxiety and depression, but it can affect anyone at any time.
The National Mental Health at Work report, commissioned by Business in the Community in partnership with Mercer, has found that 72% of LGBTQ+ people have experienced mental health issues as a result of work. A quarter of LGBTQ+ employees say they have hidden or disguised their identity at work in the last year because they were afraid of discrimination.
The survey identified that LGBTQ+ people are more likely to have mental health issues and shows an urgent need for businesses to step up their support for not only those suffering from mental health, but also for the LGBTQ+ people in their workforce.
Louise Aston, wellbeing director at Business in the Community, said:
Business is at its best when people are at their best. That means employers need to take a ‘whole person’ approach to wellbeing and ensure there is a culture where everyone feels valued and supported, whatever their identity.
The Mental Health at Work survey shows we’ve still got a long way to go in supporting LGBTQ+ people in the workplace.
Aston added that “actions speak louder than words which is why policies aimed at LGBTQ+ people are so crucial, as is line manager training. Managers can play a critical role in helping to foster a culture where employees feel able to talk openly about their mental health and ask for support when they need it.”
The survey also found that 32% of managers had disguised their LGBTQ+ sexual identity due to fears of discrimination, whilst 29% of bisexuals also hid their orientation. 60% of LGBTQ+ employees felt they were comfortable with being open about their sexual orientation at work.
BAME LGBTQ+ employees are more than twice as likely as white employees to have experienced negativity from customers and clients (23% compared to 11%). 7% said they had been physically attacked by colleagues or customers in the last year, rising to 13% of blue-collar workers, 15% of BAME people, one in five (20%) non-binary people and nearly a third (30%) of senior leaders.
28% of LGBTQ+ owners, CEOs, managing directors and board members also admitted to feeling forced to or suggested to hide their sexuality.
To make positive changes in the workplace, the Mental Health at Work report makes suggestions for employers to Talk, Train and Take Action:
Talk – Break the culture of silence that surrounds mental health by taking the Time to Change Employers Pledge.
Train – Invest in basic mental health literacy for all employees and first aid training in mental health to support line manager capability.
Take action – Implement the practical guidance found in Business in the Community and Public Health England’s Mental Health toolkit for employers.
If you are struggling with mental health issues, there are a number of services available that can provide you with support and guidance.