One in four of us will experience a work-related mental health issue in our lifetime.
It can affect how we think, feel, act, relate to others and how we handle stress. But most importantly – mental health doesn’t always stay the same. It can change as circumstances change and as you move through stages of your life or career.
It’s important we are educated about mental health in the workplace – to prevent it and to help those people who are currently dealing with it.
What are the warning signs to look out for in yourself or your team?
A manager should never make assumptions, but signs of ill mental health can include…
- Changes in usual behaviour, mood or how they interact with colleagues
- Psychological symptoms: Anxiety, tearfulness, low mood, indecisiveness, loss of humour.
- Appearing tired, anxious or withdrawn (Reduced interest in talks they previously enjoyed)
- Increase in sickness absence and/or turning up late to work.
It’s important we understand that not everyone will experience these specific symptoms at work. Create an environment where staff feel able to be open and honest about how they are feeling, is extremely important and it needs to be more than just hollow words and posters around the office Staff need to feel that they can genuinely be open about their mental health issues, not be judged or criticised or that it will affect their on-going career.
Talking to a team member who may be experiencing mental ill-health
Although it may be tempting – you should not avoid talking about it. Being open and honest will not only strengthen your work relationship, but it can prevent it from escalating further or getting worse.
- Find a calm and quiet environment: discussing it in the middle of the office won’t help your colleague be open and honest
- Act as you would normally: treat your colleague like you would anyone else, mental health problems don’t make someone different – it just means they might need more support.
- Thank them for coming to the meeting and tell them to ‘take care’ this could be all they need to hear.
- It’s also important to follow up and check in with people, all it can take is a quiet “how are you doing?” just to show that you are still there for them and you really care.
Where to start?
Promoting a positive mental health environment in your workplace can be hugely beneficial. Staff with good mental health are more likely to perform well, have good attendance levels and be engaged in their work.
Have regular catch-ups: discuss how you are both feeling and what ‘different’ things yourself or your team can do. For mental health awareness week, we collated our top tips on what we do to help our mental health – read it here.
Learn to talk to your team members and more importantly – listen.
Educate yourself: knowledge is so important – educating yourself on it will not only benefit you but also your team. If you would like more information on mental health - we’ve collated a couple of links to some mental health organisations that can help you personally, or advise your workplace.