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White van man urged to be more open about mental health

Published 14 May 2018

Despite a number of high-profile, hard-hitting campaigns, more than half of van drivers say there is still a stigma attached to discussing mental health at work, according to the latest Business Barometer research from Mercedes-Benz Vans.

More than 2000 van drivers and owners were asked to give their views and experiences of mental health issues in the workplace, with 56 per cent saying that they felt there was a negative attitude surrounding the issue. 

>>>Ford calls on van drivers to “break the silence” on mental health

Those taking part in the survey said working in ‘a male-dominated’ workplace was the key factor for the sigma, while a further 46 per cent believed talking openly about mental health issues at work would jeopardise their job security or harm their career progression.

Government figures show that men aged between 20 and 49 are more likely to die from suicide than cancer, road accidents or heart disease.

Mental health conditions - such as work-related stress, depression or anxiety - accounted for 15.8 million sick days in 2017 and the latest Government figures show that men aged between 20 and 49 are more likely to die from suicide than cancer, road accidents or heart disease. Suicide rates in men aged between 45 and 59 are also on the rise, increasing to their highest levels since 1981.

A third of managers said an employee had spoken to them about mental health concerns, although female managers are more likely to have experienced an employee talking about mental health concerns than male managers (32 vs 26 per cent).

Nearly 60 per cent of those questioned said a colleague had spoken to them about a mental health issue and felt ‘glad they could confide in me’. However, one in four admitted they felt uninformed to deal with the conversation, while one in five said it left them feeling embarrassed. A further 17 per cent said they did not know what to do or say to a colleague who might be suffering from a mental health condition.

Steve Bridge managing director of Mercedes-Benz Vans 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.”

The results from the Mercedes-Benz survey were released to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, 14-20 May.

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