Frailty And The Human Being: Mental Health At Work Becomes A Critical UK Business Issue


Nothing concentrates the mind on the importance of recognizing human frailty than the subject of mental health. When it comes to the workplace, where we spend a significant portion of our lives as employees, the onus is on the employer to give it due attention. In the U.K., where there has historically been a culture of silence around mental health, it is an issue that has only recently stepped out of the shadows. Now the latest research from Britain’s mental health charity, Mind, shows that men are twice as likely as women to have mental health problems due to their job, compared to problems outside of work.

“Frailty, thy name is woman” uttered an anguished Hamlet in the eponymous play authored by William Shakespeare. He was crying out in hurt at his mother’s swift remarriage within a month of his father’s death. But the phrase has stuck as one of those many misapprehensions around gender divides that take place every day, resulting in a lack of progression while we persist in thinking in terms of stereotypes.

One in three men or 32% of 15,000 U.K. employees surveyed by Mind across 30 organizations attribute poor mental health to their job. This compares to one in seven men (14%) who say their mental health concerns are caused by problems outside of work.

By contrast, women say that their job and problems outside of work are equal contributing factors to their mental health. Just one in five women attributes her job as the reason for poor mental health, the same number as those who say problems outside of work are to blame (19%).

Copyright Newscast Online (w/the permission of Mind, London August 8, 2017)

A young man searches the website to find information on mental health issues

With these latest revelations the ongoing juggling act of balancing work and life tensions might look different, from a gender perspective. Both the notions of ‘ambition’ and ‘family responsibilities’ are complicating wild cards here in interpreting who does what well, by gender.

“Our research shows that work is the main factor causing men poor mental health, above problems outside work. Many men work in industries where a macho culture prevails or where a competitive environment may exist which prevents them from feeling able to be open. It is concerning that so many men find themselves unable to speak to their bosses about the impact that work is having on their well-being and even more worrying that they are then not asking to take time off when they need it” said Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Well-being at Mind.

Mental illness flourishes in high-pressure workplace ; in jobs from building to banking to law, we need to spot the signs’ read the headline and sub-head in an article in the Financial Times last year. But this openness is very new for Britain.