A City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA) survey has revealed that 72% of young job seekers think that talking to a prospective employer about a mental health issue would hurt their chances of getting the job. It also reveals that over three quarters (76%) of respondents say they have experienced poor mental health, such as anxiety (53%), depression, (40%), panic attacks (28%) or suicidal thoughts (21%).


The CMHA, an alliance of businesses working together to achieve its vision that every workplace will support the positive mental health of their people, surveyed over 500 young job seekers about their experiences of poor mental health, as well as their hopes and worries about future employers. Other findings include:


  • Mental health support is important to job seekers: 91% are more likely to apply to an employer that shows a commitment to supporting employee mental health and wellbeing. Yet, 68% say that they are not aware of any mental health or wellbeing support offered by employers they are applying to


  • Mental health stigma is stopping them asking for help: Less than a third (32%) would feel comfortable asking for adjustments to the recruitment process on mental health grounds


  • The transition from education to workplace is challenging: 70% are worried about doing recruitment processes at the same time as studying. 84% are concerned about managing their finances once they start a job, including debt and budget management, while 75% are worried about leaving behind a support network of friends/family to start a new job


  • Young people feel an intense pressure to be perfect: 48% say that they avoid taking risks in case they make a mistake, while 71% react to small mistakes with a lot of self-criticism


To help businesses support the positive mental health of young people, the CMHA is sharing eight standards for mentally healthy recruitment and induction in early careers. These standards act as a roadmap for designing a mentally healthy recruitment process and induction and are supported by the first ever Guide for Mentally Healthy Recruitment and Induction in Early Careers. Both the standards and guidance draw on good practice from businesses, including KPMG, Goldman Sachs and Slaughter and May, which have been supporting the mental health of people in their early careers, as well as advice from mental health experts and people with lived experience.

Poppy Jaman, CEO of the CMHA said: “More businesses recognise that they have an opportunity and a responsibility to support the mental health of young people as they make demanding transition from education into the workplace. And, after a tumultuous year for young people who are thinking about applying or starting their first job, this is more important than ever. Supporting candidates from recruitment stage is not just the right thing to do, it is the business-critical thing to do because it is clear that young people are looking for employers who will prioritise their wellbeing. The recruitment and induction process is an opportunity for businesses to demonstrate that commitment. The CMHA is proud to launch standards and a supporting guide to help organisations design recruitment and induction processes that support the positive mental health of candidates during this demanding time.”

Joseph Reid, Bank of England, Degree Apprentice says: “When I was 18, I started a full-time job as well as studying for a degree apprenticeship. At the same time, I relocated from my family home, in a sleepy town in the North of England, to living on my own in London. It was a lot to adjust to, but the recruitment and onboarding process at Bank of England recognised that this was a stressful period and made me feel valued and supported. In fact, the culture that I experienced at the recruitment stage is one of the reasons that I accepted the job offer before I even received the outcomes from other job interviews.”

Charlotte Carter, Culture and Engagement Lead at KPMG, said: “We recognise that poor mental health is increasingly a challenge for young people and that searching for and starting a graduate or apprentice job can be an incredibly stressful time. This is especially true in 2020. As a recruiter of over 1,500 students each year for graduate and apprenticeship positions, it’s important that KPMG supports young people through the recruitment process to ensure they feel comfortable with the process they are going through so that they can be their best self. There was no off the shelf guide to show employers how to design a mentally healthy recruitment process, so we are pleased to have worked with the CMHA to co-create this guide.”

The CMHA’s eight Mentally Healthy Recruitment and Induction standards and supporting Guide will help businesses to challenging stigma in the recruitment process; design a consistent and robust process for offering adjustments for mental health reasons; and support the mental health and wellbeing of people, even in a remote working situation. Non-member businesses who would like to access the guide can find out more here.