According to a recent report, two in five UK workers (39 per cent) have experienced symptoms of poor mental health related to their work in the past year.

The report, entitled Mental Health at Work 2019 – Time to Take Ownership by Business in the Community (BITC), also found that, of those workers, a third (33 per cent) attributed their poor mental health to negative relationships in the workplace.

Other findings include the following:

  • over half of workers who experience mental health problems related to work said that this was due to pressure as a result of too many priorities or targets
  • almost one in four (24 per cent) of those with work-related mental health problems explicitly cited bullying and harassment from their manager as a major cause
  • Only seven per cent of all employees have received training to recognise workplace stress factors
  • One in three (33 per cent) workers with mental health problems said that they felt ignored
  • About one in ten (9 per cent) were subject to disciplinary action, demotion or dismissal following the disclosure of mental health issues
  • One in ten workers resigned as a result.


There is, however, a striking disconnect between the experience of workers and the perceptions of board members about how mental health is treated in the organisation. For instance, more than half of those at chief executive or board level (51 per cent) believed that they effectively supported their staff, compared with 38 per cent of people without line management responsibilities.

One of the main barriers to providing effective support was the obligation on managers to put the interest of the organisation about the wellbeing of staff members. Overall, six in ten managers said that this was the case in their organisation.

As a result of these findings, BITC recommends that businesses:

  • create “good work” that enhances mental health. For instance, by ensuring that staff enjoy security, fair pay and professional development.
  • Acknowledge and support employees experiencing poor mental health, whatever the cause.
  • Publicly report their wellbeing performance.

Emma Game, of Thompsons, comments: "The outcome of this report makes clear that further action needs to be taken to raise awareness in the workplace of the issues and concerns that employees have in terms of their mental health.  Whilst awareness of mental health has risen over the years, employers need to take a more proactive stance to improve the general wellbeing of its staff. Employers should also bear in mind that mental health issues may be deemed disabilities under the Equality Act 2010 and as such, further obligations may arise, such as a duty to make reasonable adjustments".

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