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Nearly a fifth of workers never call in sick when experiencing mental health problems

Canada Life Group Insurance showed that almost a fifth of workers reported to work in spite of having mental illness

About 20% of workers were embarrassed to tell colleagues about their health, whilst 13% of them were afraid it will negatively impact their career. A flexible working pattern and the right attitude to mental health could improve this problem.

The research showed 19% of participants would report to work when mentally ill than when physically unwell, as a significant number view mental health as less important.

The study revealed 20% of respondents would stay at home if they were stressed at work.

The major reason why people did not take leave from work although they were mentally unwell was that they felt embarrassed to tell their colleagues about their illness, as 20% of workers reported.

The study showed that 12% of workers felt they would not be taken seriously. Another 12% believed colleagues had a poor understanding of mental health issues.

The study also looked at what interventions would make workers comfortable about taking time off work when unwell. The responses showed 37% of workers agreed that a flexible work schedule would be beneficial.

The research showed 34% of respondents said it would be easier if colleagues had the right perception of health, with a further 25% suggesting it would be helpful if they were not expected to be at work all the time.

Of the participants, 22% said work support, including Employee Assistance Programmes, would be appropriate. In addition,18% suggested work rehabilitation for prolonged illness.

Paul Avis, the Marketing Director of Canada Life Group Insurance, has stated that the stigma surrounding mental health issues is still present. He said a person who is mentally unwell needs to focus on getting better.

He is of the opinion that employers have a role to play in making workers feel comfortable about taking time off due to mental illness and also to reassure them it will not affect their job. He suggested that employers should use all the help available, including that from insurers, to support workers with mental health issues.

He said the company provides an Early Intervention Service, as part of their group income protection contracts. This involves reporting the initial absence, handling complex leave from work and the management of mental health illness through work rehabilitation.

Employee Assistance Programmes dealing with excessive workloads are also provided at no cost, in addition to these services. He said employers using these facilities are showing their commitment to managing the mental health problems of employees.

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