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Graduates "Afraid to Discuss Mental Illness" with Employers

Debut, a top career app for recent graduates and students, recently released details of a survey on mental health. The findings were shocking: despite progress being made toward reducing the stigma surrounding mental health. With it featuring so prominently in 2018, some 70% of students said they would hide their mental health problems from prospective employers.


Mental Health Awareness at All-Time High

Just a few years ago, few people could cite figures on mental health statistics. But now, many people seem to be aware that mental illnesses affect ¼ of us every year. We also know that male suicides outnumber female by 3:1 with the 35-45 age group being at highest risk. Yet despite this, people are still reluctant to talk about it and that counts just as much for younger as older people.

The issues surround stigma, suggesting that those who experience mental illness still feel there is a long way to go. There also appears to be some suggestion that graduates and students soon leaving higher education believe that mental illness will stop them from getting jobs, or hold them back.


The Report’s Statistics in Brief

As mentioned above, universities have come a long way in improving mental health provision, but a large percentage of students (65%) believe it didn’t go far enough. As far as the workplace is concerned, 70% said they wouldn’t tell a prospective employer about their mental health issues. 83% of that group said they’d be open to support if such assistance was “off the record”. It was also revealed that 2/3 of employers do not offer such anonymous support

Methods and choices proposed were encouraging though. 61% of students said they would prefer face-to-face meetings, while 19% said they liked the idea of getting help through web chat services such as WhatsApp. Less personal methods such as email, video call and text messaging had only limited support. This shows that face to face therapy and support still reigns as the most popular by far in this age of technology.


The 2010 Equality Act and Employer Responsibility

When the act came in in 2010, it was heavily focused on issues such as disability, gender, religion, ethnicity, and sexuality. However, mental illness is covered too amongst other things. That means employers cannot refuse a job, promotion or anything else on the grounds that somebody suffers from mental illness.

But employers have responsibilities beyond merely not discriminating. They are required to make reasonable adjustments to the environment, practices, and workload, to assist people with mental illnesses. The duty of care is not just good business sense, but a legal obligation to a certain extent as though it was any other health and safety issue, particularly surround stress and occupational health.