Ahead of National Work-Life Balance Week (2nd October) and World Mental Health Day (Tuesday 10th October) The Institute of Leadership & Management’s new report: Mind Culture published today shows how the size of an organisation can have a significant impact on how supported employees feel, with SMEs* being voted as the worst offenders for supporting mental health conditions.

  • 45% of respondents saying that organizations with 10-49 employees didn’t support mental health problems very well
  • 42% saying support in organization with 100-249 employees was also low

The report also found that Leaders and managers are failing to give sufficient support to their direct reports who suffer from mental health issues. More than half (51%) of survey respondents who had confided in their line manager about a mental health issue did not receive any extra support. Even worse, 8% respondents faced negative consequences, including being sacked or forced out, demoted or subjected to disciplinary action.

The most common support offered by managers was time off work, which was reported by 14% of respondents, while 10% could work from home.

Yet respondents indicated that support with workload would have been more helpful than being able to take time off work.

Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy and Standards of the Institute of Leadership & Management commented:

“The stigma associated with mental health is still such a present-day reality, and for it to change leaders and managers must see themselves as drivers of change. If employees come to you with an issue, your first response should be to listen, not send them home, but to support their workload, direct them to further support and let the workplace be a focus and a driver for their recovery.

Sadly, 66% and 69% of male and female managers receive no mental health awareness training. For things to change organizations can invest in basic mental health literacy for all employees.”


Notes to editors:

Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy and Standards of the Institute of Leadership & Management is available for interview. Please contact lisa.higgins@institutelm.com or 07870 226967 for set up and any other query.

The report Mind Culture can be read here 

* The European definition of SME follows: "The category of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is made up of enterprises which employ fewer than 250 persons and which have an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million euro, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding 43 million euro.


We have the following case studies to offer to media:

1. Brentwood Community Print in Essex have developed a progressive policy when it comes to supporting staff mental health:

Director Audrey Clark says: “We operate an open door policy and everyone knows that if there is an issue that day affecting their mental health, they will be listened to straight away. That person would not be sent home but encouraged to focus on work whilst being supported by their peers. The reason we take this approach is firstly to show that our team are valued as individuals and secondly, by remaining in work they learn how to develop strategies to cope with the symptoms of their illness and be able to remain in work thus avoiding long term sickness leave and possibly isolation that can lead to a deterioration in mental health. Also, most of our team are trained in MHFA (Mental Health First Aid).”

2. The Lion’s Barber Collective, working together with Bluebeards Revenge male grooming range, use the opportunity of a regular haircut to start conversations about mental health. They are having an enormous impact with men who struggle to reach out to traditional mental health services.

Founder Tom Chapman says:

“We organise a professionally run training programme, which is teaching barbers to ‘recognise, talk, listen and advise’ clients and works with the Samaritans charity – signposting the services they offer to clients in need. The fact that it is non clinical, combined with the fact a barber is often not in the clients social circle means that there is no fear of being diagnosed, assessed or anything they do share being disclosed to one of their friends or family.

I don’t believe that barbers are able to take over from mental health professionals, nor do they want to, however I do believe that we could

bridge the gap between the community and the professionals.”

The Institute of Leadership & Management is the professional membership body for leaders, managers, coaches and mentors. We believe inspirational leadership holds the key to personal fulfilment, social wellbeing and economic prosperity. By connecting like-minded people, we aim to influence and inform and be the source of pioneering thought leadership and commentary in our field.