Identifying Employee Mental Health Challenges in the Workplace

August 21, 2023
3 min read
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In today's fast-paced and demanding professional landscape, fostering a work environment that values and prioritises employee well-being is no longer a luxury – it's a necessity. While companies focus on achieving targets and growth, it's crucial not to overlook the mental health of their workforce. In this blog, we'll take a look at some of the ways an employee mental health challenge can present itself - however we ask readers to be mindful that everyone is individual and show signs in different ways.

Changes in Behaviour:

One of the most telling signs of potential employee mental health challenge in the workplace is observing noticeable changes in their behaviour. This might manifest as increased irritability, frequent mood swings, or a general withdrawal from interactions with colleagues.

An employee who was once friendly and engaged but now appears distant and moody could be struggling with underlying emotional issues.

Decreased Performance:

A decline in an employee's work performance can often be an indication of underlying mental health struggles. This decline might be characterised by missing deadlines, an increase in errors or inaccuracies, and a general lack of focus.

For instance, an employee who was consistently delivering quality work but suddenly starts producing subpar results could be grappling with concentration difficulties due to emotional distress.

Frequent Absenteeism:

Excessive and unexplained absenteeism can be a significant red flag for employee mental health challenges.

If an employee who previously had good attendance starts missing work frequently without an apparent reason, it's essential to consider the possibility that they might be facing emotional difficulties that are impacting their ability to come to work consistently.

Physical Symptoms:

Mental health challenges can often manifest in physical symptoms. These symptoms might include unexplained fatigue, significant changes in weight, disturbances in sleep patterns, or frequent headaches.

For example, an employee who frequently complains about feeling tired, experiences noticeable weight fluctuations, or mentions persistent sleep disturbances might be dealing with emotional stressors.

Social Isolation:

Pay attention to employees who begin to isolate themselves from team activities and social interactions they previously engaged in. An employee who used to be actively involved in group discussions, team projects, and lunch breaks but suddenly starts withdrawing might be dealing with mental health issues.

Social isolation can be a coping mechanism for individuals struggling emotionally.

Communication Changes:

Significant changes in an employee's communication style can offer insights into their mental well-being. If an employee who was once open and communicative becomes unusually quiet, avoids eye contact, responds defensively to feedback, or displays heightened emotional reactions, it could be indicative of emotional distress.

Being attuned to these shifts can help you identify when an employee might be struggling.

Expression of Hopelessness

Pay attention to any comments or expressions of hopelessness, worthlessness, or thoughts of self-harm, as these are serious red flags that require immediate intervention.

Remember, while recognising these signs can help identify potential employee mental health challenges, it's essential to approach the situation with empathy, respect, and a willingness to support the employee in seeking appropriate help and resources.

For more information on our therapy service that can help support your employees mental health in the workplace, check out our page here. There are also some great resources for individuals on the MIND charity website.