Aim: This study examines whether there have been improvements in mental health-related knowledge, attitudes and workplace practices among British employers between 2006 and 2009.
Method: In 2006, the Shaw Trust surveyed 550 British employers. Telephone interviews ascertained their knowledge, attitudes and practices related to mental health in the workplace. This study compares their findings with a repeat survey of 500 employers in 2009.
Results: In 2006, 33% of employers reported that none of their employees would develop a mental health problem during their working lifetime, dropping to 7% in 2009. In both years, less than a third of companies had formal policies on stress and mental health. In 2006, 68% agreed they would be flexible in offering adjustments to someone with mental ill-health, rising to 87% in 2009. In 2006, 76% agreed that British industry needs more support to improving the way it deals with mental health in the workplace, increasing to 88% in 2009.
Conclusions: While employers' mental health knowledge significantly improved and many offer 'reasonable adjustments', there is a need to formalise these arrangements and for further training and support. Resistance to the Equality Bill amendment banning pre-employment health questions, with exceptions, is predicted based on employers' preference for pre-employment disclosure.