How to spot an employee who could be suffering from a mental illness

One in six adults is dealing with mental health issues today, such as anxiety and depression. The challenges of mental health can be particularly tough at this time of year and are often under a microscope in the workplace. We spend large parts of our lives at work – if there is someone in your business who is not coping with mental health issues then it’s highly likely that there will be some fairly obvious signs.

Being absent from work

Employees who repeatedly take sick days and absences from work may be struggling with mental health issues. It’s important to look at whether there is a good reason for this, such as a physical injury or care responsibilities. If there doesn’t appear to be one, and if the absences seem to be random and often at short notice, then this could be an indication that the person has felt unable to cope.

Extreme moods

Problems with mental health are most often associated with low mood – we might be more likely to pick up on an issue if someone becomes very quiet or withdrawn. This can be a sign that there are problems, especially if also associated with extreme distraction and apparent fatigue. However, mood issues can also manifest themselves in the opposite way. Rather than becoming withdrawn, employees may become overly energetic and slightly manic. They may be super sociable and suddenly taking on far too much. Any extreme change in mood can be a sign that something is wrong.

Changes in behaviour patterns

It’s not just a change in mood that may indicate someone who is having mental health issues. A previously very conscientious employee may suddenly start being late for work every day or frequently missing deadlines and meetings. Time management standards may slip and individuals who were previously very capable of handling their tasks and workload may suddenly seem to struggle to multitask and be effective. Decision making may also be difficult – mental health issues like anxiety can be crippling when it comes to making decisions and that can extend even to the smallest and simplest workplace decisions.

Conflicts in a working environment

Disputes and conflicts arise between colleagues all the time, especially in a pressured environment when everyone is experiencing stress. However, it can be a sign that one individual is going through something significant if they become the epicenter of conflict in the office environment. If one employee suddenly seems to be falling out with everyone on their team and is unable to handle even a straightforward situation without it escalating then this could be an indication that something deeper is going on.

If there is an employee in your workplace who appears to be struggling with mental health issues it’s important to offer them a way to ask for help. Most people will withdraw as soon as they feel others are judging them so a non-judgmental, open environment is essential.

Many employees today suffer with mental health issues but these don’t have to escalate. With the right workplace safeguards in place it’s possible to support people during this time so that individuals can find their own way out of what they are going through.

For more employment advice, get in touch with 2iRecruit today on 01483 414719.