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Vast majority of workers with mental health issues keep it secret from their boss: study

WATCH: Mental health expert Geoff Soloway shares some easy ways to increase mindfulness in the workplace

The majority of adults dealing with mental health issues do not tell people at work, a recent study has found.

According to a survey conducted by Ipsos Mori, 82 per cent of people with a diagnosed mental health issue said they do not tell management or co-workers, citing concern it would have a negative impact on their job.

The study, conducted on behalf of telemedicine company Teladoc Health, also found that more than one in four employees believed it was inappropriate to even talk about mental health in the workplace.

READ MORE: Canadian campuses desperately need better mental health services

The main reasons respondents said they did not talk about their mental health were because they feared the information would have a negative impact on their job (55 per cent), they were embarrassed (21 per cent), they worried that others’ professional opinion of them would be tarnished (21 per cent), and they believed their capability at work would be questioned (18 per cent).

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Forty per cent of employees also said stigma about “poor mental health” still exists in their workplace.

Ipsos surveyed 3,974 participants online across the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia. All participants were between the ages of 18 and 65 and have full-time or part-time jobs.

Out of all the respondents, 27 per cent reported being diagnosed with a mental health condition, yet more than 25 per cent “experiencing multiple mental health episodes” do not seek help.

How to help take care of your mental health while in school
How to help take care of your mental health while in school

This data reflects other research on the topic, and the stigma that many people still believe is associated with mental health.

Recent research by the Movember Foundation found that men still struggle to talk about mental health — especially in the workplace.

Twenty-eight per cent of Canadian men surveyed said they believed their job could be at risk if they discuss mental health issues at work, and more than 33 per cent of men worry they could be overlooked for a promotion if they mention a problem.

More than four in 10 men also said they are worried about colleagues making negative comments behind their backs.

READ MORE: ‘It feels like failure’: Why Canadian workplaces should offer stress leave

According to Dr. Ashley Bender, an occupational psychiatrist and professor at the University of Toronto, silence on mental health in the workplace is often seen as “the safe route.”

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“Anything that is a potential threat to the loss of work or… their work status is something that could contribute to [someone] not coming forward with mental health issues,” Bender previously told Global News.

To combat this, Bender says workplaces need to do a better job at creating safe environments and ending stigma.

“One of the ways is to launch anti-stigma campaigns… to impart knowledge and change attitudes about mental health,” he said.

“This is really quite impactful, but it’s work that has to be done continuously.”

Laura.Hensley@globalnews.ca