Mental health: Are employees 'too busy' to seek help?

Why are people turning away from professional guidance?

Mental health: Are employees 'too busy' to seek help?

Despite experiencing poor mental health, nearly two in five workers who struggle with emotional and psychological distress report they have yet to seek professional help. The most common reason: they feel their conditions aren’t serious enough to warrant the attention of experts.

In fact, more than half of people in Australia, the US and Europe, who were polled by Edith Cowan University, say they have never turned to mental health services for support. This includes people who are known to be struggling with poor mental health (39%). The fact that people are turning away from seeking professional help is alarming, considering how the COVID-19 crisis has aggravated the mental health epidemic for 44% of people in general and 48% of women in particular.

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Fewer than one in five respondents take this aspect of health seriously – and even among those who say they prioritise mental health care, only 43.7% or less than half are working to address their condition with guidance from the experts. Why do employees avoid asking for professional help?

  • 37.7% believe their condition is ‘not serious enough’ to require attention
  • 36.0% think mental health services are too expensive
  • 31.8% say they are too busy
  • 25.6% doubt the effectiveness of mental health care
  • 25.4% don’t want others to worry about them
  • 23.1% feel uncomfortable discussing their mental health
  • 20.2% have a hard time asking for help
  • 15.6% feel unsafe going out because of possible exposure to COVID-19
  • 13.6% feel ashamed of their mental health
  • 10.0% worry about being judged by others

Read more: Are you okay? The power of storytelling in mental health

“The extent of mental health problems can be hard to identify without any training,” researchers said, citing the example of the Australian government in educating the wider community about how to self-identify mental health conditions and reach out for help before they even realise they need it.

“As our study concluded, mental health is not just a personal struggle, but a commonly shared health concern, especially during this unprecedented time of hardship,” the researchers said. “[Many] still struggle to seek professional help, often feeling that their issues may be too small to warrant the investment of time or cost. But our study shows mental health impact can extend to many areas of life, from our motivation at work to our connection to loved ones. If you are struggling with any of these, you know how hard it can be to overcome it alone.”

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