Career Opportunities in Wales are Unequal as a Result of Mental Health


Findings from a survey of over 5,200 professionals and employers have revealed that career progression opportunities are vastly unequal as a result of mental health.

The survey by recruiting experts, Hays, found that when asked if respondents had the same opportunities as others in their organisation, the highest perceptions of unequal access to career progression opportunities were attributed to mental health, ahead of factors like age, disability or ethnicity.

Alongside career progression, almost a third (32%) of people with a history of mental health conditions say this has affected their chance of being selected for a job. 63% of people who have ever had a mental health condition are also uncomfortable providing information on their mental health status when applying for a job.

The survey also highlighted disadvantages with regards to equal pay and mental health as 32% of respondents felt pay was not equal when taking mental health into account. This was more apparent in the public sector as a third of respondents felt pay was unequal compared to 31% in the private sector.

Generational and regional divide in those experiencing mental health conditions

The results show a clear disparity in professionals’ experience of mental health conditions. Overall across Wales, 35% of professionals say they currently have or have experienced a mental health condition and notably, professionals at the beginning of their careers are more likely to be experiencing or have experienced a mental health condition.

Over half (56%) of junior employees say they have experienced a mental health condition, compared to just 23% of directors. Disparity across seniorities also reflects divides across generations, as half of those 25 and under say they have experienced a mental health condition compared to 26% of those aged 55+.

Professionals in Wales are more likely to say they have experienced a mental health condition (35%) compared to other regions. The North East and East Midlands elicited similarly high results (32% and 31% respectively), compared to London where only 20% say they have experienced a mental health condition.

Yvonne Smyth, Group Head of Diversity and Inclusion, commented:

“It’s clear from our research that experience of mental health conditions is becoming more apparent and as such employers need to step up to negate the concerns employees have around unequal access to career progression linked with mental health.

Structured career progression plans for all professionals regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or mental health history can help address this – and support everybody, regardless of background, to achieve their full potential within an organisation.

For employers, it may be small steps initially, such as talking more openly about mental health and what resources are available, or ensuring managers have access to training in order to better spot signs of mental ill health.”