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Most workers lie to their bosses to hide their stress

Most UK workers who take time off because of stress lie to their bosses about the true reason for their absence.

Nine out of ten respondents in a survey undertaken by the mental-health charity Mind said that they gave a false reason for stress-related absence, such as having a stomach upset or headache. Only 10 per cent of respondents were comfortable to tell the truth about stress.

The charity said how important it was for employers, particularly in difficult economic times, to prioritise the issue of mental health and support staff, whether or not they were experiencing problems.

Good mental health, it said, was a prerequisite of a healthy and productive workforce - and those organisations that prioritise mental wellbeing reported greater confidence, motivation and focus in their staff.

Another survey by Mind found that three in five people would feel more loyal, motivated, committed and likely to recommend their workplace, if their employer took action to support the mental wellbeing of their staff.

Creating the right environment to be open about stress and talking about problems is a crucial part of becoming a mentally healthy workplace, it said. Reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues is of benefit to more than just those who are experiencing difficulties. Just knowing that support is available boosts everyone's wellbeing.

To feel comfortable enough to disclose a diagnosis of a mental health problem, the charity recommended that employers establish 'honest communication' with employees and maintain supportive contact throughout an absence. A phased return to work when ready, with possible adjustments, was also suggested.

Acas has detailed information about Stress, and has published the pdf icon Promoting positive mental health in the workplace [386kb], which aims to help employers tackle the stigma around mental health, create a supportive environment and take practical steps to address to the common causes of mental ill health in the workplace.

Acas also runs practical training courses on Stress and Health, work and wellbeing, which includes a special session, Mental Health Awareness for Employers.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects page for more information.

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