Recognising Mental Health At Work

The Issue

We can spend a great number of hours at work each week, sometimes more than we do at home. So, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure that our jobs are fulfilling and not harmful to our health and wellbeing. A negative work environment can be very damaging to our physical and mental state, with the attitude, abilities and approach of our leaders often directly affecting whether our mental health is good or bad.

Mental health refers to how we feel and the way this affects our day to day life, thoughts, actions and decisions. Whilst good mental health allows us to feel upbeat, optimistic and strong, bad mental health can have the opposite affect and can cause us to feel unmotivated, unwell and lacking in energy. Mental health can fluctuate, with many of us experiencing periods of both optimism and defeat on a regular basis. As a leader, you have a duty of care to look after those whom you manage and to keep a close eye on their mental wellbeing. You must ensure that they are properly equipped, trained and able to do their job to meet your and their own expectations for their role, and to contribute to business growth. Your workplace must legally comply with Health and Safety Executive health and safety laws, which includes minimising threats to all employees physical and mental wellbeing.

Mental Health Awareness & Challenges

Good mental health at work can increase work enjoyment and productivity and lead to greater resilience and motivation. As a leader these are certainly qualities that you want to encourage in your team. Having a good awareness of any and all potential mental-health related issues can benefit your own team and the business as a whole. Mental health symptoms can often differ from employee to employee; however, you can take certain steps to ensure that you are aware of any problems and equipped to help anyone affected to deal with them. For example:

  • Take time to understand what mental health is and how individuals may be affected by it
  • Educate your teams on mental health awareness and what to do if they are struggling themselves, or see a colleague having problems

As a responsible leader, it is vital that you know how to recognise early signs that an employee may be struggling with their mental health, so that you can offer assistance and minimise any further threat to wellbeing.

Some early signs that someone may be struggling with poor mental health include:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Becoming increasingly distracted
  • Loss of energy
  • Talking less than normal
  • Feeling overwhelmed by tasks that wouldn’t usually cause the person any concern

Thoughts To Change 

Learning how to spot signs of poor mental health at work in yourself and your employees is a vital part of leadership – and indeed in being a decent human. Knowing what someone is going through can help you to adjust their workload if necessary and provide the correct level of support. Get to know your staff so that you can more easily recognise any changes in their behaviour or demeanor that could identify an underlying issue.

How Can We Help?

Gayle Young is a qualified mental health first aid instructor and can work alongside yourself and your team to help you recognise and deal with issues around mental health at work.

Get in touch to find out more about our Mental Health First Aid Course