Only 13% are comfortable asking for time off due to mental ill health

Only 1 in 10 (13%) UK employees revealed that they are comfortable enough to admit to their employers that they need time off for mental ill health, according to research by mental health app Wysa. 

The findings highlighted that 83% would prefer to talk to a mental health app rather than their HR department, and 53% would choose an app over a therapist.

More than a third (35%) of working 16 to 65-year-olds had experienced moderate to severe depression or anxiety symptoms, while 62% of those with moderate to severe anxiety and 66% with depression had taken time off, but lied about the reason.

When unable to work due to mental ill health, 24% had taken time off sick using physical illness as the reason, and 22% used their annual leave. Half (48%) went to work regardless, and only 14% were honest and cited stress or mental health as a reason for sickness absence. One in five (18%) of those aged 25 to 34 were honest, compared with 9% of those aged 55 to 64.

The research also discovered that men were more likely to take paid time off (25%) than women (17%) if their mental state impacted their ability to work, and women were more likely to go to work anyway (54%) than men (47%).

Ross O’Brien, UK managing director at Wysa, said: “We owe it to our workforce to find a different solution to addressing mental health problems. 11 million workers who need some kind of support for anxiety and depression have access to it, through a tool or system that works for them. A digital front door to support, services and therapy, that removes the barriers to mental health support altogether.”

Nicky Main, UK and Europe clinical lead at Wysa, added: “The fact that some people would rather speak to an app than HR demonstrates the need for a supportive and structured approach to mental health in the workplace. We know employers and businesses are talking about mental health, but people still aren’t feeling comfortable enough voicing their needs. It’s time we really do make mental health on par with physical health in our workplace.”