Aim – To investigate whether employers who have experience of hiring people with mental health problems differ significantly from those without such experience in terms of knowledge, attitudes and behaviours regarding mental health in the workplace, and the concerns which they report about employing people with mental health problems. We also examine whether non-workplace social contact is associated with the above variables. Methods – A telephone survey was conducted with a randomly selected sample of British employers. The sample included a similar number of human resource managers and managers/executive employees in other roles. Results – 502 employers took part. Having employed someone with a mental health problem was associated with closer non-workplace social contact. Those with experience of employing applicants with mental health problems had significant differences in knowledge (regarding the law), and behaviour (having a policy on hiring applicants with disabilities) but not in attitudes. Conclusions – Non-workplace social contact may be useful to consider in understanding hiring practices. The nature of social contact at work and possible lack of impact of this contact on employer attitudes and concerns warrants further study. Greater support is needed for employers to understand the law regarding mental health problems in the workplace.
Declaration of Interest: The study was part funded by Big Lottery and Comic Relief through their funding of the Time to Change programme. The study was also supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) applied programme grant awarded to the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. The authors report no conflict of interest in the preparation of this manuscript.