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Mental health still ‘taboo’ for women at work

Almost four out of 10 women have taken time off work as a result of poor mental health over the past year, a new report claims.

The proportion calling in sick because of stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health issues has gone up from 35% to 39%, according to the latest Women @ Work report from consultants Deloitte.

This is markedly higher than the 33% global average, according to the research, which surveyed 5,000 women in different sectors in 10 countries, including 500 in the UK.

However, two-thirds (65%) of women do not feel comfortable discussing mental health at work or disclosing mental health as the reason for taking time off, suggesting it is still largely a taboo subject in the workplace.

This is felt more acutely by women from ethnic minority backgrounds; over half (56%) needed to take time off but only 20% felt comfortable sharing mental health as the reason for their absence to their employer.


Almost half the women surveyed in the UK said their stress levels had gone up, in part because of increased pressure to return to office working.

Exactly 50% said they have been asked by their employer to commute to the office on more days of the working week,

Jackie Henry, managing partner for people and purpose at Deloitte UK, said: “There are concerning findings in this year’s research that reveal increased stress for women, with factors both in and outside of their workplaces.

“Flexibility and work-life balance are critical for good mental health and productivity. Despite the importance of flexibility, it’s concerning to see that fewer women than last year feel supported by their employers to balance their work responsibilities with their commitments outside work.

“It’s important to lead from the top so women don’t feel like they have to take on the full load or risk damaging their careers.

“We found that women who work for organisations that have gender equality in their leadership feel safer and more comfortable talking about their mental health at work.”


Source: Jonathan Prynn, Yahoo News UK


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