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2018 Saw many high-profile cases of public figures experiencing issues with their mental health. Recent examples such as Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Reynolds, Tyson Fury and Danny Rose show that no one is immune to mental health issues regardless of wealth and privilege.
But a stigma still surrounds people talking about their mental health.
At the workplace, a cycle of poor mental health will continue if employers don’t learn to identify and offer support to staff who show these early signs:
The first indication of a possible mental health issue seems a difficult one to judge: staff who take frequent days off sick.
However, it could be that the employee doesn’t feel comfortable revealing that stress, anxiety or depression is the true reason for their absence.
If the employee takes repeated days off for an on-going problem without ever providing a doctor’s note, there may be an underlying mental health issue.
People experiencing poor mental health may appear withdrawn and tired, have trouble making decisions and be emotional or irritable.
It could be that the employee is afraid to take time off work because they think their employers might view their mental health issues as a weakness and an inability to do the job.
Mental health issues can have a huge impact on an employee’s motivation to carry out their tasks, even though they are present in the workplace. Just like a physical illness, being mentally unwell can lower productivity.
This can’t then exacerbate the problem for sufferers, as low productivity may be interpreted by colleagues as a lack of ability or effort, thus adding towards an increased pressured working environment. As a result, the employee may begin to isolate themselves or perhaps become short-tempered
With added worry that someone else could take their job, the downwards cycle of poor mental health will only continue—perhaps at a greater rate.
Employees with mental health issues may resign because they feel that cannot get better while still at work. Others may do so because they feel work causes their mental health problems.
To prevent further loss of staff, employers should put in place a wellbeing strategy that focusses on building an early mental health symptoms warning system. As part of this, employers should give information to staff about support services like confidential telephone advice or counselling.
So what can we learn from the high-profile cases mentioned in this guidance? For a start, we shouldn’t wait until a crisis happens to offer support to an employee who needs help.
It’s also important to note that everyone can experience a mental health issue differently. As employers, it is vital that your team leaders get to know your employees to help them understand what help and support they need, and when they need it.
In spotting the signs early, employers can show employees that there’s a safe environment for them to speak up and find a way to improve their mental wellbeing.
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