It’s not 1 in 4, it’s all of us.

New research by Accenture for This Can Happen has found that over three-quarters of young workers in the UK have experienced mental health problems.


New research by Accenture for the conference found that by the time they reach 30, 95% of workers in the UK will have been touched by mental health problems — either their own, or those of a friend, family member, or co-worker. These individuals are also almost twice as likely as their more senior peers to be experiencing issues with their mental health right now.

We are proud to be the official charity partner for This Can Happen for its second year. And as experts in workplace mental health, we’re glad to see more research proving the need for more mental health support for employees and more supportive workplace cultures.

According to the findings of 2019 research, younger workers are more hesitant than their older peers to tell employers what’s going on. They also perceive more pressures in general (almost 43% more) in their lives than older workers.

Topping their list of frequent concerns is:

  • Working under pressure (40% citing it as a primary recurring issue)
  • Worrying about their own health (39%)
  • Worrying about someone else’s health (32%)

Younger workers are also more likely than their more senior peers to be struggling with debt or to pay bills. It’s a troubling state of affairs. Especially as just 6 in 10 18–25-year-old respondents (and fewer than half of those aged 26–30) reported having received any training, information or advice about taking care of their mental health before entering the workplace.

If employers want a healthy, happy workforce they need to fill that gap. But it has been two years since the publication of the Stevenson–Farmer review, which estimated that poor mental health costs UK employers up to £42 billion every year. And fewer than half of the workers in our study can say with certainty that their organisation offers any formal support around mental health.

The good news is that employers are increasingly aware of the need to address mental health and, in that spirit, willing to take action. And there is great reason to be optimistic about the impact that companies can have. In organisations that are getting mental health support right — where
that support is an integral part of the company’s culture — Accenture findings show that workers of all ages are almost four times more likely to say that work has a positive influence on their mental health. In those same cultures, young workers were almost 37% less likely to have recent experience of a mental health problem.

It’s clear that many young people face challenges with their mental health before they enter the workforce and while working, and that they are affected more often than their senior peers. Therefore, mental health must be a priority issue for employers. Businesses need to look at how they can create an open, supportive work environment which enables employees of all ages to look after their mental health, support one another, and perform at their best.

– Barbara Harvey, managing director and mental health lead for Accenture UK

With this survey we hope that many employers will examine their recruitment, induction and management styles to support younger members of their workforce. Undertaking large scale insightful research programmes that highlight the challenges faced by those entering the workforce is an integral part of what This Can Happen and Accenture are working towards.

– Zoe Sinclair, Co-founder of This Can Happen

In this second report prepared by Accenture for This Can Happen, they look more closely at the role of company culture and its impact on younger workers. Based on research
findings, they also outline steps that companies can take to improve mental health support for younger workers, benefiting all of their employees in the process.

Download the full Accenture report. 

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