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Businesses pay the price as one in three UK employees fear consequences of disclosing mental ill health

One in four (25%) UK employees are hiding mental health challenges from their employers and nearly a third (31%) say they would not feel comfortable disclosing a mental health issue to their employers, research by QBE, the business insurance specialist, revealed.

The research, carried out in the run up to World Mental Health Day, found that 34% of workers are concerned about job security, and one in four (25%) feel that disclosing mental health challenges to their employer would put their career at risk.

The survey highlights that actions speak louder than words, with one in four (24%) workers saying that, based on how they’ve seen colleagues with mental ill health treated, they would not be confident disclosing their own mental challenges to their employer. One in five workers (22%) said they did not trust that their employer’s concern about mental wellbeing was genuine.

Almost a third of workers (29%) are currently struggling with their mental health, with younger workers more likely to say they are struggling than older workers (35% of 18-34 year olds versus 16% aged 55+).

The financial impact on businesses

Over a fifth (22%) of employees admit to having made mistakes at work recently because they have continued to work instead of taking time off for the sake of their mental health, while 35% admit that their recent performance has fallen short of their usual levels.

In 2019, research carried out by QBE found that when employees continue working instead of taking time off when experiencing mental health issues, it can cost companies an average of £52,000 in lost business or contracts.

Adam Shelverton, Rehabilitation Manager at QBE said: “In this uncertain environment, employees are concerned about job security which may be having a knock-on effect on the way they are addressing their mental health.”
“It is clear from our research that it is not enough for companies to just say the right thing when it comes to mental health, they need to be seen doing the right thing. Businesses lose money when their employees don’t feel safe enough to be honest about their mental health and those workers who are suffering will be watching out for how colleagues in similar circumstances are treated before deciding whether to come forward for help or not. It is encouraging that 30% of workers say they have received good support from their employer but clearly there is much more to be done.”



For further information contact:

Alexis Burris, Media Relations Adviser, QBE, +44 (0)20 3465 3921

Sandra Villanueva, Senior Media Relations Manager, QBE +44(0)20 7105 5284

About the research

The research was carried out by Opinium in an online survey of 2,003 nationally representative UK adults, of which 1237 are workers between 25 - 28 September 2020.

About QBE

QBE helps businesses build resilience through risk management and insurance.

QBE European Operations is part of QBE Insurance Group, one of the world’s leading international insurers and reinsurers and Standard & Poor’s A+ rated. Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, QBE’s gross written premium for the year ended 31 December 2019 was US$13.4 billion.

As a business insurance specialist, QBE European Operations offers a range of insurance products from the standard suite of property, casualty and motor to the specialist financial lines, marine and energy. All are tailored to the individual needs of our small, medium and large client base.

We understand the crucial role that effective risk management plays in all organisations and work hard to understand our clients’ businesses so that we offer insurance solutions that meet their needs – from complex programmes to simpler e-trading solutions – and support them in minimising their risk exposures. Our expert risk management and rehabilitation practitioners focus on helping clients improve their risk management so that they may benefit from a reduction in claims frequency and costs.