Few employers have discussed mental health issues with their staff and a "strikingly low" number have a company-wide policy in place, new research has revealed.
A study by the Institute of Directors (IoD) found that fewer than one in four firms had a specific programme for dealing with mental health issues.
Most workers would prefer to discuss mental health concerns with someone outside work, said the report, based on a survey of 1,150 employees and almost 600 business leaders.
Just 7% of employers have talked to workers about mental health issues, it was discovered.
Simon Walker, director general of the IoD, said: "There may come a time when people are as comfortable talking about their mental health as they are talking about going to the dentist, but we're not there yet.
"Huge progress has been made, but society still has a long way to go in increasing awareness and understanding of mental health issues. Businesses have an enormous role to play in creating an environment where such issues can be discussed openly, effectively and safely.
"After all, we spend a huge amount of our lives at work and among colleagues, so we have to take steps to ensure that the work environment, particularly in smaller businesses, is one where mental health issues are well understood."
The report was published in support of a campaign to encourage people to have a five minute conversation about mental health to break the silence often associated with the issue.
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