NEARLY three in 10 businesses have experienced an increase in the number of staff taking time off for mental health reasons, a survey has revealed.

The survey, conducted by British Chambers of Commerce and insurer Aviva, also shows 33 per cent of business leaders have noticed an increase in the length of time that employees are taking off because of mental health issues.

More than 1,000 business leaders, from every nation and region of the UK, were surveyed.

British Chambers and Aviva concluded the survey suggested “that firms are more aware than ever of mental health concerns in the office, and that the topic is becoming less taboo for both employees and employers alike”.

But they emphasise that the survey also signals firms could do more on this front.

British Chambers and Aviva say that the findings suggest employers are supporting staff with mental health issues, from reviewing individual workloads and providing flexible working options to organising counselling for staff and training for managers to better support employees.

However, 49% of those surveyed said they did not access occupational health support for their staff from external bodies. And 10% were not aware of any available support.

British Chambers director general Adam Marshall said: “As the world of work changes, it is absolutely crucial for business leaders to pay ever-closer attention to the health and well-being of their employees.

He added: “While legions of firms are now more aware of mental health concerns and acting accordingly, far too many businesses are still turning a blind eye to this issue, which saps productivity, morale and individual well-being.”