How to Spot Mental Health Issues at Work

Being aware and able to spot the symptoms of employees who could potentially be suffering from mental health issues is a valuable ability to have. Not only will it allow you to offer help and care to your staff early on, but it will also potentially change their life and make a positive impact, which will prevent possibly disciplining someone who needs support. It is important to remember that everyone’s experience with ill mental health is different, so symptoms can vary from person to person. However, there are some common signs to look out for regarding an employee’s wellbeing. Bear in mind that if you do spot one of these signs, it doesn’t always necessarily mean someone has a mental health issue. It could signal an underlying health problem or something else entirely. But it is always worth talking to any staff members who you are concerned about, to check if everything is OK or if they can be helped in any way. Read below to find out some of the most common symptoms of mental health problems at work, and ensure that you are prepared to help any employees who may need it.

Physical Signs

A panic attack can be an incredibly frightening experience, and several physical symptoms can happen all at once. Someone who is suffering a panic attack may begin to shake, sweat, struggle to breathe or experience a choking sensation. They may feel as if their heart is pounding at a rapid rate or that they can feel pain in their chest. This may all cause them to feel as though they’re having a heart attack, or going to die. Panic attacks can be associated with mental health problems such as anxiety or panic disorders. These can be eased with professional help and/or medication, making day-to-day life much easier.

Psychological Signs

Psychological signs can be more difficult to spot, and therefore may require you to be extra attentive towards employee wellbeing in the work place. These psychological signs can include:

Distraction and confusion

While it may be hard to spot these symptoms in your team, you may have concerns that one of your employees is suffering but paired with any other signs, it can signal that there is a mental health problem occurring. Lapses in memory Memory lapses can be one of the more noticeable psychological signs in a person and can often lead to confusion or disorientation. Memory lapses can be caused by number of things, including overwhelming stress or experiencing trauma.

Tearfulness

Noticing that a team member is tearful can signal problems in their personal life, or perhaps they may be suffering from stress or ill mental health. Regardless of the reason, they may benefit from someone to talk to or support from their co-workers.

Behavioural signs

In many cases, behavioural signs can be misinterpreted as a bad work ethic or etiquette, and can result in an employee being wrongfully reprimanded. Therefore, if any of these signs are noticed in your staff members, it may be worth speaking to them or offering help instead of punishing them. Behavioural signs of someone struggling with mental health can be:  

Anger or aggression

Increased irritability or anger in an employee can be a tell-tale sign of anxiety or other disorders, especially if this is an employee who usually has a calm and collected personality.

Risk-taking

If an employee has begun to take risks that seem out of character, or appears to be making more impulsive decisions without thinking through the consequences, this can be an implication of bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia. Disorders such as these will require the help and support of a professional.

Increased absence

Notable increased absence in an employee may initially lead you to disciplinary action, however, before this you may want to consider speaking to them to ensure they’re not facing personal issues. Offering help and support to your staff may help to decrease absence if there is an underlying cause. You now have some more information about some of the potential signs of ill mental health, therefore you can look out for these within staff and offer any necessary support. It is a good idea to take extra measures to ensure that employees feel cared for and supported, and so implementing an employee wellbeing service may be a good step to take. A wellbeing programme will demonstrate that you are committed to caring for your staff and giving them the support they need to be happy and healthy at work – something you may not personally be able to provide. For more information on the services and support we can provide in your workplace, feel free to contact us, as we are always happy to help.

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