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Workers fail to receive mental health support since pandemic, research finds

Some 56% of UK workers have not received any mental health support or advice from their employer since the onset of the pandemic, according to a survey by mental health organisation TalkOut.

The survey found that 68% of workers had felt “anxious and apprehensive” about returning to work, while 35% said that their mental health had worsened since the pandemic. 

In addition, 51% of respondents said they have “felt uncertain” about the future of their job since the start of the pandemic.

Despite these findings, only 44% of workers said they had been offered a form of mental health support or advice.

A further 31% of respondents were having less one-to-one conversations with their boss compared to before the pandemic, while 60% said that their workplace had not organised any virtual social activities since working from home. 

In addition, 85% of respondents didn’t believe mental wellbeing was their employer’s priority during the pandemic. Only 15% said they would feel comfortable speaking to HR about mental health.

Jill Mead, CEO of TalkOut, said: “Mental health has been on the business agenda for some time, but if there’s one thing this crisis has made clear, it’s that there is still a long way to go when it comes to providing effective support to employees.

“Unfortunately, whilst businesses were quick to adapt to social distancing and working from home, for many, the emotional wellbeing of employees was an afterthought. But the psychological strain of the crisis is impossible to ignore and whether staff have been working on the frontline, furloughed or working from home, it’s likely to have a long-term impact.”

She added: “It may seem like a daunting task but there are a number of immediate actions businesses can take to improve staff health and wellbeing. Regular communication to see how people are doing, creating safe spaces for people to talk openly, providing mental health training, and pinpointing employees to useful resources are all great starting points.

“A positive and supportive workplace can make all the difference when it comes to mental health and now more than ever, businesses have a duty of care to their workforce. In time, Britain will come to review its response to the Coronavirus pandemic, but mental health can’t wait.”

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