Ignorance of mental health symptoms causing employees to delay treatment

One in four UK employees who seek help for mental health issues delays getting treatment because they do not understand their symptoms.

Research from private healthcare group Bupa examined employees understanding of psychological and behavioural symptoms of six of the most prevalent mental health conditions in the UK.

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More than 70m working days are lost each year in the UK due to mental health problems, statistics from the Mental Health Foundation show.

The Bupa research shows that inaccurate assumptions caused almost 7m to delay seeking support for a mental health problem.

Although the findings show that general awareness of mental health issues have improved among nearly three quarters of workers over the last five years, knowledge of symptoms is still lacking, with six in 10 (59 per cent) unable to name the main traits of specific conditions.

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Clinical director for mental health at Bupa UK Pablo Vandenabeele said: “Mental health is one of the biggest challenges businesses face today, so its encouraging to see that general awareness of these issues is improving. However its clear that many people still would not recognise the symptoms of specific conditions in their colleagues. A better understanding of mental health conditions would help people to identify whether they or a colleague needs support more quickly, which can significantly improve outcomes.”

According to Bupa, six of the most common mental health conditions are anxiety, bipolar, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Bipolar is the most misunderstood condition with 85 per cent of people unable to identify the symptoms of lacking energy, feeling sad, hopeless and irritable, and having difficulty concentrating. Other symptoms include elevated mood and hyperactivity.

Nine out of 10 (91%) are able to identify the key symptoms of depression and nearly half (49%) are able to recognise the most common signs of anxiety which include restlessness, a sense of dread or insomnia.

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