Employee mental ill health - how to spot the signs

By: Kelly Tucker

Date: 22 January 2018

Employee mental ill healthEvery year, Blue Monday - dubbed the most depressing day of the year - causes us to stop and think about mental health. But depression, stress, anxiety and other mental health concerns affect people throughout the year.

It can be difficult to identify if an employee may be affected, as many sufferers hide their symptoms due to the stigma surrounding mental health - particularly in the workplace.

Protecting employee wellbeing should be at the heart of an organisation's HR policies - so it's imperative that employers and managers know how to recognise potential issues.

Warning signs

The most obvious sign that an employee has a health problem is regular absences from work - but it's rare for people to call in sick and openly cite depression or anxiety as the reason for it. Regular short-term absences that aren't accompanied by a doctor's note could indicate an underlying mental health condition.

Low employee engagement can also be a sign. Mental health issues can have a huge impact on a person's motivation to do their work, even though they may have made it into the office. Just like a physical illness, being mentally unwell can lower productivity.

This often serves to exacerbate the problem for sufferers, as low productivity may be interpreted by others as a lack of ability or effort, creating an even more pressured working environment. Employees may begin to isolate themselves or perhaps become short-tempered. Any change in behaviour is a flag for concern.

Serious issue

A history of leaving jobs at short notice or for unclear reasons may also indicate a potential health problem. Individuals suffering with mental illness may resign because they need to stop working while they recover, or they may feel the job itself is affecting their mental wellbeing.

In extreme cases, grievances may be brought against a business. By their definition, complaints signal problems with workplace wellbeing and highlight distress to an individual caused by the behaviour of another member or members of the workforce. While this is a worst-case scenario, by not investing in employee wellbeing from the outset, businesses could be putting themselves at risk of such a move.

It is important therefore for employers to take steps to look after their employees and offer support as and when required.

Sponsored post. Copyright © 2018, Kelly Tucker, managing director of HR consultancy HR Star.