Are retail workplaces improving for people living with mental health issues?

mental health retail

New research has found that only three per cent of senior decision makers in retail feel they are given enough support to assist employees living with mental health issues.

The YouGov study, commissioned by job search platform Totaljobs, surveyed senior business decision makers in the retail industry to find out their opinions on mental health in the workplace.

Thirty-two per cent of decision makers are aware of employees living with a mental health issue, with 20 per cent aware of employees who left their job because of their mental health. 

Despite high numbers of staff living with mental health issues, only 21 per cent of the decision makers surveyed believe their employees feel comfortable speaking about it with them. 

A further 11 per cent say there is a greater workplace stigma towards mental health conditions than physical ones.

With more employers now offering health and wellbeing services to their staff, of those surveyed, the most prevalent service was flexible working hours (39 per cent), followed by encouragement of regular breaks (28 per cent) and counselling (21 per cent).

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Provision of quiet areas inside the workplace (16 per cent) and free or discounted gym memberships (16 per cent) rounded out the top five.

Nina Fryer, Senior Lecturer in Health and Nutrition at Leeds Trinity University, said one the stigma that people feel is associated with mental health, and the concern that they will be appraised or judged negatively if they do disclose are the biggest barriers affecting the workplace.

“One of the best things an employer can do is to uncover the ‘elephant in the room‘ that is mental health,” Fryer said.

“This can be achieved through providing visual and verbal information on mental health support, such as posting where to find mental health support on staff notice boards and in staff common areas. 

“It is also important to introduce discussions about mental health and positive wellbeing into appraisals.

“Offering training to managers in how to initiate and follow up conversations about mental health, provides a pathway for employees who are suffering to take action. 

“Finally, ensuring that men are represented in communication around mental health is important, as we know that men, in particular, are more reluctant to discuss it.”

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