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Men use annual leave to address their mental health, leaving little time for the things they enjoy – study reveals today

Matthew Shaw, Managing Director of Raiys

A study of salespeople, with more than 1,000 participants, has revealed a mental health stigma in the workplace, with men more likely to use annual leave than sick leave to address clinical diagnoses related to mental health.

Warrington-based Raiys, an app developer and coaching provider, specifically designed for those in sales to deal with stress and improve their mental health, conducted the research to raise awareness amongst business owners of the challenges their employees face.

It found females experienced higher levels of stress than men, 70% compared to 51%, it also revealed males were less likely to take sick leave for their mental health, instead opting to use annual leave for this purpose.

It discovered young people were more likely to suffer than any other age group, with nearly three quarters of 18-to 24-year-olds reporting they experienced workplace stress in 2021.

Raiys’ managing director, Matthew Shaw, warns the data raises concerns about a cultural stigma which isn’t going away. He said: “We need to see direct action from employers to tackle this issue. It’s common knowledge that high levels of stress can lead to burnout and serious illness, yet it’s clear from the results that not enough is being done to help those in the industry with their wellbeing.

“Our findings revealed nearly half of women surveyed believed there was a stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace compared to 37% of men; but when it came to taking time off to address this, women opted to use sick leave more than men, while a higher proportion of men use annual leave, suggesting a lingering stigma surrounding the open conversation about mental health.

“This raises serious questions over whether men are feeling pressured to use large chunks of their annual leave to protect their mental health when they should be using this time to take a break and enjoy life.”

Matthew, who previously worked in sales for 15 years before founding Raiys, offered his advice to businesses.

He added: “Last year was dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’ and as people left their jobs, they sought roles which offered enhanced wellbeing support and a higher focus on personal development.

“Business leaders should be investing in their people through the progression of interpersonal skills and motivation, alongside equipping senior figures to spot the signs in employees who are struggling and implement an individualised plan to support development.

“Individuals with stronger mental health are four times more likely to report a higher performance in work. With investment into the wellbeing and development of employees, everyone wins.”

Raiys previously revealed from its study nearly a quarter of salespeople were diagnosed with clinical anxiety or depression in the last 12 months. Three quarters of those surveyed also rated their mental health as poor and more than half reported high levels of stress and general anxiety over the past year.

Raiys’ team of 15, which includes psychologists and performance coaches, hopes to remove the stigma around mental health and equip those working in high-pressured roles with the tools to feel more confident and motivated to succeed in their careers.