Mental Health at Work – Seeing the Whole Person

Man helping girl with laptop, father, dad, family, daughter, computer, beard, diverse

Why personalisation is needed to resolve the mental health epidemic

If the latest findings from the Mercer Marsh Benefits and Business in the Community Mental Health at Work 2019 Report tell us anything, it’s that non-personalised approaches to mental health, such as one-size-fits-all benefits platforms, are failing to deliver.

Nearly two-thirds of people (62%) have experienced a mental health issue due to work, or where work was a contributing factor, at some point in their careers, and two in five people (39%) have experienced mental health symptoms related to work in the last 12 months. More than one-third of people (34%) have been formally diagnosed with a mental health issue.

This is an epidemic by any standard, and more needs to be done to address the root causes instead of just trying to deal with the symptoms once people start to experience crises.

There remains a worrying disconnect between the extent to which employers think they’re helping people and the extent to which they actually are. Half of those at board or CEO level (51%) believe their organisations do well in supporting those with mental health problems, compared to just 38% of managers. Nearly two-thirds of managers (62%) say they’ve had to put the interests of their organisations above staff wellbeing, and only one in 10 (13%) has attended training specifically focused on mental health.

If managers were to admit to putting the physical health or safety of staff at risk, this would rightly be considered unacceptable. So it’s deeply concerning that it’s become common practice to knowingly put the emotional wellbeing of staff at risk. 

The need for a more personal approach

This year’s data also reveals the extent to which stress relating to a person’s minority status is having a significant impact.

More than three-quarters (79%) of LGBT+ employees have experienced a mental health problem where work was a cause or factor over the course of their careers, while as many as 30% of BAME employees feel they have experienced a negative behaviour or outcome in the last year due to their ethnicities.

Women are more likely than men to be affected by financial difficulties (23% compared to 19%) and more likely than men to have their mental health affected by domestic abuse (16% compared to 10%). People aged 18–29 are most likely to be affected by loneliness, with almost one in two people in this group (48%) feeling isolated compared to 19% of those aged 60 and above.

These are just some examples out of many, and all highlight the extent to which different groups of individuals are experiencing mental health issues due to different drivers.

When you factor in the impact of personality on an employee’s receptiveness and willingness to engage with wellbeing benefits and initiatives, it’s clear that employers need to do much more to tailor their mental health benefits and pathways to different audiences.

This isn’t about changing the images on a benefits brochure to reflect the gender, age or race of recipients. It is about taking the time to understand the real issues undermining the health of your workforce so you can tailor solutions and communication methods to different groups instead of relying on one-size-fits-all models.

For more insights on how your organisation can take a personalised approach to mental health, download our full "Seeing the whole person" paper.


Mental Health at Work 2019 Report, BiTC. The 2019 Mental Health at Work report presents key findings of a survey of over 4,000 full and part-time employees in the UK that is representative of gender, age, industry sector, region and business size, excluding sole traders and those working alone. The survey was conducted by YouGov and led by Business in the Community, the Prince’s Responsible Business Network, in partnership with Mercer Marsh Benefits and the BITC Wellbeing Leadership Team. The report was carried out with 9 national partners,  CIPD, Mind, Mental Health at Work, Mental Health First Aid England,  The Institute of Leadership and Management, British Disability Foundation, Involve, Salary Finance and Society of Occupational Medicine.

Wolfgang Seidl
Wolfgang Seidl

EMEA Health Management Leader, Mercer Marsh Benefits

Get the full “Seeing the Whole Person” paper

To download “Seeing the Whole Person” paper, please fill out the form below.

*Required Fields