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Career opportunities in the Midlands are unequal as a result of mental health

Yvonne Smyth

  • Over half (56%) of professionals in the Midlands believe there is unequal access to career progression opportunities because of mental health
  • Over a quarter (28%) of people with a history of mental health conditions say this has affected their chance of being selected for a job
  • 68% of people across the Midlands who have ever had a mental health condition are uncomfortable providing information on their mental health status as part of a job application
  • Professionals at the beginning of their career are more likely to be experiencing or have experienced a mental health condition

As it’s World Mental Health Day today, please read findings from a survey of over 5,200 professionals and employers have revealed that career progression opportunities are vastly unequal as a result of mental health.

The survey by recruiting experts, Hays, with over 700 responses from professionals in the Midlands, found that when asked if respondents had the same opportunities as others in their organisation, the highest perceptions of unequal access to career progression opportunities were attributed to mental health, ahead of factors like age, disability or ethnicity.

Alongside career progression, over a quarter (28%) of people with a history of mental health conditions across the region say this has affected their chance of being selected for a job. Over two-thirds (68%) of people who have ever had a mental health condition are also uncomfortable providing information on their mental health status when applying for a job.

The survey also highlighted disadvantages with regards to equal pay and mental health in the Midlands as 36% of respondents felt pay was not equal when taking mental health into account.

Generational and regional divide in those experiencing mental health conditions

The results show a clear disparity in professionals’ experience of mental health conditions. Overall across the UK, a quarter of professionals say they currently have or have experienced a mental health condition and notably, professionals at the beginning of their careers are more likely to be experiencing or have experienced a mental health condition.

29% of graduates and 30% of junior employees say they have experienced a mental health condition, compared to 20% of directors and 16% of C-suite staff. Disparity across seniorities also reflects divides across generations, as close to two-fifths (39%) of those 25 and under say they have experienced a mental health condition compared to 22% of those aged 55+.

There are differences in experiences of mental health conditions regionally too. 25% of professionals in the Midlands say they have experienced a mental health condition, compared to only 20% of those working in London and 35% of those working in Wales.

Yvonne Smyth, Group Head of Diversity and Inclusion, commented: “It’s clear from our research that experience of mental health conditions is becoming more apparent and as such employers need to step up to negate the concerns employees have around unequal access to career progression linked with mental health.

Structured career progression plans for all professionals regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or mental health history can help address this – and support everybody, regardless of background, to achieve their full potential within an organisation.

For employers, it may be small steps initially, such as talking more openly about mental health and what resources are available, or ensuring managers have access to training in order to better spot signs of mental ill health.”