Did you know that suicide is the leading cause of death among people age 20-34 in the UK?
For men, it’s the leading cause of death all the way from 20-49 years old.
This week is Mental Health Awareness week. It’s a topic we should be able to talk about, like heart disease. But it’s not. New research suggests that for many of us, especially those working in male-dominated industries like transport, mental health issues remain the elephant in the room.
In research published by Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, more than 2,000 van drivers were asked to give their views on mental health issues in the workplace. Of those questioned, 56% said they thought discussing mental health issues at work carried a stigma.
Of those who reported stigma, more than half said they thought that being in a male-dominated workplace was a key factor. The next biggest concern was that discussing mental health problems might affect job security or career progression.
15.8m sick days in 2017
Government data suggests that mental health conditions such as work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 15.8 million sick days last year.
The Mercedes’ Business Barometer research found that 28% of managers questioned said an employee had spoken to them about mental health concerns. However, female managers were more likely than male managers to have had this experience (32% vs 26%).
Steve Bridge, Managing Director, Mercedes-Benz Vans UK Ltd, said:
“A key component of these tragic statistics is that men are much less likely to talk about their feelings than women – something that is compounded within a ‘macho’ industry or role.
“There isn’t a quick fix or an easy answer to the issue of mental health in the workplace, but by talking about our feelings and taking a wellbeing complaint as seriously as a physical ailment, we can all work together to eradicate the perceived stigma around mental health.”
One of the key factors which contributes to anxiety and depression is stress. With insecure ‘gig economy’ jobs on the rise in the transport sector, many drivers may feel under pressure to perform even in difficult circumstances.
Chris O’Sullivan, Head of Workplace at the Mental Health Foundation, says that “by tackling stress we can go a long way to tackle mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.”
But achieving this means getting rid of the stigma around mental health. These figures suggest that we still have a long way to go to achieve this.