Please let’s face facts. We’re all overworked, so when we see statistics showing that nearly half of all people calling in sick are having a “mental health day” how are we doing our very best to reduce occupational stress in New Zealand?
Telling your boss you have a mental health issue is hard so why aren’t we taking a closer look at this problem? We often have to look overseas for research, but you can’t argue that mental health isn’t on everybody’s mind at the moment, with rising house prices, longer working hours and more stress put on a family because of the ever-present desire to keep up with the Joneses.
Despite 46% admitting that work is the primary cause of their mental health problems, just 15% would tell their boss if they were struggling with an issue of this nature.
New research from UK health and wellbeing provider BHSF, has highlighted a hidden problem that is only magnified by the stigma surrounding poor mental health. The study shows that 24% of employees worry that if they did need to take a sick day due to a mental health issue, they will not be taken seriously.
- 42% of UK employees are calling in sick claiming a physical illness when in reality it’s a mental health issue
- 21% have called in sick for stress but pretended it was something physical
- Just 15% would tell their boss about a mental health issue
- 27% employees believe mental health issues carry a stigma
It’s not that we are saying it’s not ok to take a mental health day. The problem we see is that these senior managers are being put in a position where they need to call out staff for telling a bullshit story when they could help if they had the right processes in place.
Doctor2Go solves this problem. By law you can’t ask for a medical certificate until after 3 days and but whenever your staff call in sick it’s ok to tell them to get help, especially if you have Doctor2Go. With no time, travel or cost barriers, staff have no reason to avoid seeking help. Instead of the stigma associated with telling their boss, they are seeking mental health advice, your employee can easily use your company’s Doctor2Go portal for a consultation. Our professional mental health practitioners then deal privately with the issue.
This research could be a reality check for employers to think differently about their EAP solution and understand if it provides managers with the right tools for early intervention in the digital age and how to foster an open culture of support. The research shows that the scale of this problem is enormous and potentially underestimated by employers, as this evidence showing employees feel they need to mask their feelings.
Put the power in your senior leaders’ hands to help your team when they need it by providing them with digital support tools which supplement your existing occupational health strategy.