Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental Health in the Workplace

New research by Bupa of working people in Hong Kong shows a third (34%) of respondents don’t feel they can talk about their mental health with their managers at work.

  • Over a third (40%) of the respondents felt they would be penalised for talking about their mental health, with an even higher percentage (48%) among the younger generation;
  • More than half of respondents think they will be overlooked for a promotion (67%) or a pay rise (54%) by talking about their mental health challenges;
  • 56% of respondents have seen mental health issues handled inappropriately in the workplace.

Bupa surveyed 1,555 people in Hong Kong, Australia and Spain about their mental health in an online poll in September 2017. Nearly three quarters (74%) of respondents in Hong Kong said they felt their colleagues would be nervous if approached about the subject; the percentage in Hong Kong is significantly higher compared to that in Australia (60%) and Spain (53%).

40% also felt they would be penalised for talking about their mental health, by being overlooked for promotion or pay rises as the most common perceived consequences reported. Over half (60%) of respondents worried about requesting time off for mental health.

The challenge of supporting mental health in the workplace is also being felt by line managers. Over half of respondents say direct reports have come to them about poor mental health. Of the line managers surveyed, 66% say they are worried about saying the wrong thing when approached about mental health; while 41% say they feel awkward talking about it.

Worryingly, more than half (56%) of respondents said they have seen mental health issues being handled inappropriately in the workplace.

Dr. Sarah Salvilla, Medical Director of Bupa Hong Kong, commented: “There’s still a stigma in many countries when it comes to talking about mental health in the workplace, including here in Hong Kong. It’s clear that some progress has been made in this space, but more needs to be done so that discussing mental health is no more taboo than talking about physical health.”

“Supporting people in feeling comfortable enough to discuss mental health in the workplace is key to making more progress in reducing the stigma around this issue. For instance, our research shows that more than a third (36%) of respondents in Hong Kong who are managers haven’t had any guidance or training on how to support others affected by mental health challenges.”