Graduates scared to admit mental health issues

By Hollie Ewers on 30 May 2018 Employment Student midwives

Study reveals students aren’t prepared to admit mental health issues to potential employers in order to protect their careers.

The study by Debut, a student and graduate careers app, reveals that 70% of the 1000 UK graduates in full-time employment that they questioned would avoid informing prospective or new employers about their mental health issues to avoid any negative impact on their career progression and position.

Nine out of 10 respondents (88%) said they believed there is still a negative stigma attached to admitting to suffering from a mental health issue.

Some 65% of the respondents believe their university did not do enough to support students with mental health issues – of which four in every 10 graduates suffer (41%).

While some students may be happy to divulge their mental health history at university level, there are clearly still barriers to overcome at a professional level.

Of the 70% who said they would avoid telling an employer about their mental health issues, 83% said they would be more inclined to seek mental health support if their employer offered an ‘off-the-record’ or fully anonymous service or services that would be kept separate from their employment record.

However, nearly seven in 10 (67%) graduates said their company does not offer ‘off-the-record’ support to employees. When asked what form of ‘off-the-record’ support they would prefer to use, respondents said face-to-face meeting (61%), WhatsApp, or other instant online chat (19%), email (10%), via video call (7%), SMS/text-messaging (3%).

According to the study, employers are failing graduate employees with only 15% of graduates describing the employee welfare provided by their employer as ‘good’, only half (51%) saying it was ‘adequate’ and 34% labelling it as ‘poor’.

The statistics show that graduates don’t feel their workplaces are properly equipped to support workers with mental health issues.

It appears that while mental health concerns are being discussed more openly in wider society, there is still work to be done in regards to the stigma associated with admitting to suffering from mental health issues and support offered to those transitioning from university to work.

Founder and CEO of Debut Charlie Taylor said that supporting new graduates as they transition from university to work should be a major consideration of progressive employers.

‘If graduate recruitment specialists want to attract – and more importantly keep – the best talent as they emerge from education, they need to know what issues students and graduates are facing, and how best to support them,’ he said.  

He added that graduate programmes can be fiercely competitive, which can exacerbate mental health issues and employers need to ensure they are providing anonymous, ‘off the record’ support for this future workforce.