‘Mental Health Washing’ on the rise

Overwhelming majority of UK employees (79%) do not believe their employers when they promote mental health initiatives, finds shocking research from MHR.

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  • News comes as research shows that a fifth of FTSE 100 firms post on social media about mental health during awareness days and not again for the rest of the year
  • Nearly half of employees have missed bill payments because of payroll inaccuracies, impacting mental health
In light of World Mental Health Day, MHR, the HR, payroll and finance software provider, has today revealed new research showing just how far there is to go when it comes to the consideration of mental health in the workplace. The findings show that nearly eight in ten UK employees (79%) do not believe their employer when they discuss or promote the mental health initiatives on offer.

Related reading to support World Mental Health Day – 10 October 2023

This suggests employees are seeing through what MHR has termed ‘mental health washing’ whereby companies say they promote the importance of mental health, but the reality is very different.Worryingly, the same research showed that this phenomenon has basis in fact – a fifth (19%) of the FTSE 100 posted about mental health on their social channels on relevant awareness days, but then did not reference anything to do with mental health at all for the rest of the year.With a majority of UK adults (65%) saying their mental health has been impacted this year as a result of their financial situation, and even more – 67% – saying this was directly affecting their ability to concentrate at work, it is abundantly clear that addressing mental health washing should be a top priority for businesses looking to recruit and retain the best talent.Doing so includes ensuring the most efficient payroll processes are in place, since money concerns are compounded by inaccuraciesnearly half (46%) of employees reported that they have missed a bill payment because they were not paid correctly or on time by their employer.

Jeanette Wheeler, CHRO of MHR, comments:

“This research is quite shocking – in today’s day and age, it simply shouldn’t be the case that employees feel as though mental health offerings are not authentic. Employers who are not seen as proactive and genuine in dealing with this crisis will suffer long-term consequences as employees vote with their feet and look elsewhere for those who are. “World Mental Health Day serves as a vital reminder of the duty of care employers have for their employees, but any offerings or services in place to help should also be openly discussed all year round to remove the stigma associated with using them. Businesses also need to acknowledge the impact sloppy internal processes – such as inaccurate payroll – can have on the wellbeing of its workforce. The rising cost of living is placing a huge strain on employee finances, which is naturally impacting mental health. Employees should be able to expect to be paid accurately and on time to mitigate these financial stresses. “Employers have a commitment to their employees’ wellbeing, and having an accurate, reliable payroll procedure is one piece of the puzzle.”

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