Workplace pressure contributes to mental health issues for majority of business leaders

Workplace pressure is a major contributing factor to mental health issues among business leaders, according to a new survey from the Institute of Directors, published on Time to Talk Day 2019.

Among the 500 directors and managers polled, more than half said they had experienced poor mental health that was in part connected to factors such as a lack of work life balance and heavy workloads.

According to the respondents, greater engagement with peer networks was seen as the best way to address the problem, with over-two thirds saying they had shared or would be willing to share their personal experience with mental health issues with peers outside their organisation.

The IoD is now relaunching its mental health campaign, updating its range of resources for businesses with an emphasis on the wellbeing of directors themselves and holding multiple events across the country on the subject.

The survey also revealed that although most business leaders had been approached by staff about mental health problems, almost half said mental health and wellbeing was not actively promoted in their organisation, while only a quarter were able to offer mental health training for management. The main reason for this was a lack of appropriate information and guidance, outstripping lack of time and lack of financial resources put together, and fewer than a quarter felt there was enough clear support available for employers.

Edwin Morgan, Interim Director General of the Institute of Directors, said: “Mental health is an issue that needs to be taken seriously at all levels of business. There has rightly been a growing focus in recent years on companies paying much greater attention to the wellbeing of their staff, but these figures are a reminder that mental health issues can affect anyone.

“For entrepreneurs and senior directors, life often revolves around work, and when a problem arises on the job, it can feel all-encompassing. With the success or failure of the organisation on their shoulders, some directors find it hard to prioritise their own wellbeing.

“It’s crucial that smaller firms in particular have access to straightforward information and guidance on what they can do to address mental health in the workplace, for the benefit of staff and leadership alike. While it is becoming more common to talk about these issues at work, and many businesses are investing in programmes to boost wellbeing, there is still a battle ahead of us. The world will not become any less complex or uncertain in the coming years, and to be able to adapt and prosper, companies must start with the resilience of their people.”