Employee mental ill-health - spotting the signs

By: Kirsten Cluer

Date: 22 January 2019

Employee mental ill-health - spotting the signsAccording to the Mental Health Foundation, 30% of employees experience a mental health problem each year, with around one in six showing signs of anxiety and depression every week in the workplace.

Following 'Blue Monday' on 21 January - dubbed the most depressing day of the year - businesses across the UK are being encouraged to stop and think about mental health. It's important not to forget, however, that it's an issue which affects people throughout the year.

Although mental health awareness in the workplace has considerably improved over recent years, there is still a long way to go before all employers offer the right support to those who are suffering.

Employee wellbeing should be at the core of any organisation - so it's essential that employers and managers take mental health seriously. Here are the signs to look for.

1. Regular, short-term absences

In the workplace, it can be difficult to identify when employees may be suffering with poor mental health. One of the most obvious signs is reoccurring absences from work. This is especially evident if consistent patterns of absence are beginning to develop.

It's important to remember that it's very rare for an employee to call in sick and openly cite depression or anxiety as the reason. However, regular short-term absences could indicate an underlying mental health issue.

If an employee cannot back up their absences with a doctor's note indicating a specific physical condition, employers should be aware that poor mental health could be the reason.

2. Low engagement and productivity

Conversely, some employees may feel they have to turn up to work, despite being mentally unwell. Unfortunately, many sufferers fear being stigmatised, and so hide their symptoms.

Like a physical illness, however, mental ill-health can have a huge impact on employee motivation - so another sign employers should be aware of is low engagement and productivity levels.

3. Changes in personality or behaviour

To complicate matters, turning up when unable to work productively can exacerbate the employee's problems. It may be misinterpreted as laziness or a lack of ability by colleagues unaware of the underlying issue, thereby adding to the stress and pressure being suffered.

The knock-on effect of this could be that the employee begins to isolate themselves, or become withdrawn or short-tempered. Any change in behaviour is another flag for concern.

By being aware of these three potential signs, employers will be able to not only efficiently spot hidden mental health issues in the workplace, but effectively manage those who are suffering and are in need of support.

Sponsored post. Copyright © 2019 Kirsten Cluer, HR consultant and owner of Cluer HR

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