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A third of employers still don’t talk to staff about mental health

New research by Acas has found that over a third (35%) of British employers have not spoken to their staff about their mental health and wellbeing over the past year during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Acas commissioned YouGov to ask businesses in Britain about whether they had personally talked to their staff about their mental health in the last 12 months during the pandemic. The poll found that:

  • Nearly three out of five (59%) had spoken to staff;
  • Over a third (35%) had not talked to staff;
  • 3% did not know or could not remember; and
  • 3% preferred not to say.

The publication of the results coincides with Time to Talk day, which aims to support people to have conversations about mental health.

Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said:

“The pandemic has been a challenging period for everyone and it is great to see that most employers have chatted to their staff about their mental health and wellbeing.

“However, a third of employers have not spoken to their staff about their mental health over the past year. Taking the time to talk openly about mental health is vitally important as it can avoid problems building up and lead to improved morale at work.

“Acas has good advice and training on how to support and manage mental health and wellbeing at work, which includes tips on how to start those conversations.”

Acas advice for employers on managing mental health during COVID-19 includes:

  • Be approachable, available and encourage team members to talk to you if they’re having problems;
  • Keep in regular contact with your team to check how they are coping;
  • Address any individual communication preferences such as asking team members if they prefer to talk over the phone, through video meetings or by email;
  • Respect confidentiality and be calm, patient, supportive and reassuring if a staff member wants to have a chat about their mental health; and
  • Look after your own mental health and get support if you feel under more pressure than usual. This support could be a colleague at work, a mental health network or a counsellor.