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Jan 2022

UAE: Fear of stigma stops employees from taking advantage of health and wellbeing benefits

Source: Middle East Insurance Review | Dec 2021

Many employees in the UAE are reluctant to use health and wellbeing benefits offered by their employers, for fear of being judged and worries about how management will react if they find out. This was according to recent survey conducted by Aetna International which polled over 1,000 workers in the UAE.
When respondents were asked what stops them from accessing the current health and wellbeing benefits provided by their employer, the top reason cited (29%) was fear that their career progression would be impacted if HR/management found out that they were struggling. 22% said that they didn’t feel comfortable accessing benefits as they felt no one else was and 20% also worried about how they would be perceived by colleagues if they used health and wellbeing resources.
This worrying level of stigma is particularly acute when it comes to mental health. Twenty seven per cent of UAE respondents cited worrying about HR/management finding out details about their mental health as a key reason they avoid using their health and well-being benefits.
Aetna International CEO EMEA David Healy said, “We know from previous research that businesses in the UAE have notably increased their support for employee health and wellbeing over the last 18 months, and have become much more sensitive to the stress, anxiety and other pressures people face on a daily basis.
“In spite of these best efforts, these findings suggest that a significant number of employees may try to cope alone with mental or physical health challenges. Sadly, stigma, particularly around mental health, means some employees still believe they could face repercussions if they reveal they are struggling, which should never be the case in any workplace.” M 
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