Nearly a third (32%) of British employees would not tell anyone at work if they felt they were suffering with stress, anxiety or depression.

New research released today by wellbeing charity CABA has found that 32% of British employees would not tell anyone at work if they felt they were suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. 

Comparatively, 57% of British employees would open up to someone at work if they felt they were suffering with poor mental health, with 1 in 4 (25%) choosing to confide in their line manager or supervisor. Only 5% would confide in HR, making it the least preferable outlet. 11% do not know what they would do in the situation. 

CABA’s research also revealed that women are more private than men when it comes to their mental health - over a third (34%) would not tell anyone at work if they were suffering. Women are, however, more likely to confide in a close work colleague (19%) than men, who would prefer to tell a member of management (38%). 

Nearly half of over-55s (40%) would prefer to keep quiet about their experience with stress, anxiety or depression – more than double their younger counterparts aged 25-34 (18%). If older employers were to confide in anyone they would choose their line manager or supervisor (23%). 

Kelly Feehan, Services Director at CABA, commented:

1 in 4 people experience a mental health issue every year, so it’s alarming to learn that so many adopt the British ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality and suffer in silence. Therefore, it’s important for businesses to promote a supportive, non-judgemental ethos to encourage employees to open up. Line managers are evidently highly valued, so employers must ensure that these individuals are well trained to reassure and advise on sensitive issues that may be presented to them, and guide their mentee in the right direction if professional help is required.”

British employees in London (73%) are the most open about their experience with stress, depression or anxiety. Contrastingly, nearly half of employees in Ireland (40%) and Scotland (40%) keep their mental health worries quiet. Over a third (35%) of employees working in finance and business would not tell anyone if they were suffering from a poor mental health, highlighting the reserved nature of these industries. 

Senior employees (49%) are the most private when it comes to their mental health. Those earning the highest income (over £150,000 per annum) are also the least likely to open up (48%) if they thought they were suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. None of them would tell HR or senior management. Comparatively, the majority of mid-level employees (69%) would share their mental health concerns.

Kelly Feehan continued:

“Our research highlights a correlation between workers in more senior, higher paid roles and a reluctance to open up about mental health worries. It’s important to remember that mental illness is indiscriminate. If you fear being judged for sharing your experience, there are outlets available which offer counselling and impartial advice on overcoming stress, anxiety and depression. Failing to address mental health concerns can negatively impact wellbeing, job performance and relationships. Remember that a problem shared is a problem halved, so take the weight off your mind and be comforted in the knowledge that you’re proactively moving towards a happier, healthier future.”

How CABA can help

CABA supports the wellbeing of past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and their spouses, partners and children up to the age of 25. For advice, information and support please: