Mental health has become a prevalent topic over time and all-the-more important during the Covid-19 pandemic. Rightfully so too as the pandemic has seen a spike in the number of people reporting mental health issues at work, and many experts have indicated that a mental health pandemic could be on the horizon.
The first step to aiding with mental health issues is awareness. Raising a discussion and encouraging those who suffer to come forward is possibly the biggest leap to conquer. It will be helpful for employers to have an understanding of what mental health is – specifically being able to indicate the signs of poor mental health, what issues can impact a person’s wellbeing, and how you can provide support to your employees.
Recognising the signs of poor mental health
Just like physical health, it will be crucial to diagnose the symptoms of poor mental health as soon as possible before they progress. This can be difficult however, as mental health comes in many forms and is not always easy to pinpoint – especially if you do not know exactly what to look out for.
Keeping an eye out for changes in behaviour will be a good place to start. Ask yourself questions, namely what you know about the person you are concerned about. For example:
- Has their mood changed recently? What are they usually like on a day-to-day basis? Has the bubbly, out-going individual suddenly became withdrawn and quiet? Or is the calm, steady one now impatient and often irritable? Of course, everyone has their off days but if people’s temperaments abruptly change and stay that way, it could a sign of mental illness.
- Has their performance recently declined? Are they missing deadlines? Be careful not to immediately assume this is laziness. They could be struggling to remember or concentrate on things – an indicator to a more serious issue.
- Are they skipping lunch? Everyone needs a break throughout the workday, so it is important to take notice of whether your employees are taking their lunch break. If they are not and this is regularly occurring, it could be that they are overworking themselves.
What causes mental health problems at work?
Once you can identify the signs, it will be extremely important to then pinpoint what exactly is causing those health issues at work. That way you can better understand what needs to be done to reduce it.
There are several factors that could be causing mental strain on an individual – whether it be personal or from issues arising within the workplace. It will be important to take note of these so changes can be made to make your staff’s environment a much healthier and happy space to be in.
- Stress or being overworked will likely be a common issue. Constant deadlines can put a lot of pressure on an individual, especially if they are juggling a busy life outside of work. Along with childcare and a plethora of personal responsibilities, employees may struggle with finding that work/life balance. Feeling overwhelmed at work may cause them to struggle to switch off after hours, resulting in them feeling like they are living to work rather than working to live.
- Now more than ever, many employees are likely feeling isolated. Working from home as a result of the numerous lockdowns over the past 12 months has left many workers feeling alone and hopeless. It has no doubt been a drastic adjustment to people in busy careers who are used to interacting with people every day, especially if they live alone.
- Employees facing any kind of discrimination, whether it be against race, age, sex, or disability, could suffer greatly with their mental wellbeing. Unjustified distinctions could evoke feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt, causing the individual to feel very withdrawn and isolated from the team. This should never be tolerated and should be resolved immediately to avoid serious harm.
How can you help your employees when they’re struggling with their mental health?
Now you have identified the signs and potential causes, it will be beneficial to figure out ways to help your staff with their mental health.
Mental Health Training at Work
Our Online Mental Health Awareness Course uses case studies to provide information on what mental health is and how you can monitor and support your own and others mental wellbeing. The course goes into further detail on the issues discussed above, and how those can be improved through the ‘five ways to wellbeing’ method. It highlights how crucial it is to endorse a healthy work-life balance and how this can substantially benefit your mental health.
Mental Health Policy
Having a policy in place can help alleviate some of the pressures employees may feel when dealing with a mental illness. Knowing they are supported, and you are doing all you can to ensure their environment is healthy and safe, may evoke a happier and calmer mindset in them. You can contact one of our consultants either via email, telephone, or by completing our contact form for a free consultation if you need further guidance on how to implement a mental health policy or if you would like one of our consultants to create a bespoke policy for your workplace.
Talking to Your Employees About Mental Health
Ultimately it all comes down to communication. Communicate to your teams across the company and let them know you are actively raising awareness and are there to support those suffering. Send out email campaigns, display posters, have monthly meetings to check in on team members to get an idea on how people are coping.
Talking about mental health can be difficult, but the most important thing to remember is you are not alone. A lot of the time the hardest thing to do is to admit you are struggling, but once you push past that barrier, it will be a lot easier going forward. Ensuring employees are comfortable by providing them a safe and supportive system, will likely encourage them to seek help when they need it. So long as there is communication and no one is left to suffer in silence, there will always be a solution.
If you have any queries about any topics discussed in this blog, then please contact us today on 0845 262 6260 to speak to one of our HR or Health and Safety experts.