Workplace mental health support is worse in the public sector than in the private sector, according to a comprehensive study by mental health charity Mind.
The charity surveyed over 12,000 employees and found both a higher prevalence of mental health problems in the public sector, and a lack of support available when people do speak out about them.
Public sector workers were more likely to say their mental health was poor compared to their peers in the private sector; 15 per cent as opposed to nine per cent, and more likely to say they felt anxious at work on several occasions over the past month; 53 per cent against 43 per cent.
And under half felt supported when they disclosed mental health issues, compared to 61 per cent of those in the private sector.
The UK public sector employs over 5.4m people and around three million of those are employed are employed by central government.
And the impact of the lack of support regarding mental health at work is significant, according to Mind. Respondents from the public sector said that they had taken nearly three days off sick, on average, in the last year due to their mental health. That compared to just under one day on average for workers in the private sector.
Nearly half of public sector workers had time off due to their mental health, while under a third of the private sector employees had.
However, the research also found that the public sector as a whole was more aware of the problem than the private sector and workers were more likely to disclose they had a mental health problem and be up front about it when they took time off because of it.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “As a nation our expectations for better mental health for all are higher than ever and the next government must rise to this challenge.
This data shows that the public sector in particular is making progress here. But it’s also vital that when people do speak out they get the right help and support at the right time.
It’s clear there is still a long way to go in both the public and private sector to address the gap between people asking for support and actually getting what they need.