Mental health issues are an important consideration for leaders. After all, we work with our team members almost every day and have a great opportunity to spot the signs and provide assistance. Mental health issues are becoming extremely common in many workplaces, so we can’t ignore the impact they can have.
To help cover this important topic, Marie Miguel (you can read her bio below the article) from BetterHelp.com has written this guest contribution. I hope it helps you to manage any mental health issues you may find in your team.
This year hasn’t been easy on anyone. Even if your employees seem to be chugging along, they may have internal battles that are unseen to the naked eye.
There could be anxiety, depression, stress, and other struggles happening, and as a kind leader, it’s important to recognise these issues and look for ways to handle them.
The Mental Health Crisis
Before 2020, many employees were already suffering from mental health issues. One American Health Association survey found that 75% of employees had some sort of mental health problem. It’s an issue that can affect business quite a bit.
The employee may be less productive and bring down the morale of other employees. Not to mention, it hurts seeing someone suffer. The person who is suffering from depression may have physical and mental ailments that make it worse.
The reason why mental health is such a crisis is because some people are good at hiding it. There are some who seem happy and healthy, only for you to discover that they have chronic anxiety. With that said, most people who are having mental health issues do exhibit some signs.
Spotting the Signs of Mental Health Issues
Every mental health case will be different, but most people exhibit some signs. If your employees are showing any of the following, you may need to intervene.
#1: Anger and Mood Swings
Does your employee seem easily angered or irritated for no reason? Anger problems are common in people who are going through a lot. If an employee is under extreme stress, it may just take one small incident for them to snap. Irritability is also a sign of depression, too.
Of course, anger is just one part of it. The employee could have mood highs. They could be a little more manic, which means they feel on top of the world and unstoppable. This mood tends to come crashing down after a while, however.
#2: Changes of Appearance
Sometimes, your employee may seem to be putting less effort into their appearance. If your employee usually dresses sharp, but is now wearing clothes that seem inappropriate or less well put together, this may be a sign of a mental health issue.
If their hair isn’t as well-combed as it used to be or they seem less shaven, this may also be a sign, too. Another sign is that they are less hygienic. When one is bogged down by depression, taking a shower can be an issue.
#3: Changes in Sleeping Patterns
Listen to how your employee talks about sleeping. Do they keep saying “I didn’t sleep well last night” or keep oversleeping? This can be a sign of depression and anxiety.
The lack of sleep, or even too much sleep, can make one’s mental health problems much more apparent as well. If you catch your employee nodding off, it may not be a case of laziness. They could have severe mental health issues that make it hard to get a good night’s rest.
#4: Lots of Time Off
Taking an occasional sick day or vacation is common, but there are many employees who may just take days off for no reason. These can be referred to as mental health days.
For example, if your employee is too depressed to get out of bed, they may ask for a mental health day off.
#5: Fogginess and Low Productivity
Does your usually-sharp employee suddenly have difficulties solving problems or focusing? This could be due to a mental health issue. It may be caused by a lack of sleep, but it can also happen at any time.
Besides the fogginess, you may also notice a sudden drop in productivity. Your productive employee may not be producing as much as they used to. Again, this is not necessarily laziness, but could be a sign there’s something wrong mentally.
#5: Less Social Behaviour
Sometimes, an employee can manage to keep up productivity, but seem a little less social than usual. They may blow off their coworkers or not attend parties as often.
The employee may want to keep to themselves a little more than usual. This is a sign that the employee could be suffering from depression.
#6: Paranoid Behaviour
Sometimes, you may notice that your employee seems a little more paranoid than usual. They may have started off as level-headed, but then have this sudden paranoia about their job or about coworkers.
Sudden paranoia could be a sign their anxiety is skyrocketing, and it may be something you want to look into.
#7: Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Does your employee stink of gin, or is covering up their arms? They may have issues drinking or trying drugs.
They may have other vices as well. This can be a sign that they are trying to self-medicate, which can be a dangerous coping mechanism.
What to Do About Suspected Mental Health Issues
If you suspect that your employee is having a mental health issue, it can definitely be a hard thing to approach. Walking straight up to your employee and asking if they are depressed can end up backfiring.
Let’s look at some ways to handle this:
- First, do a little research. Not just on mental health, but ask other people what could be done. Different people will have different opinions, and all this can combine to give you a way for you to reach out to your employee.
- Ask your employee if they are doing well, and ask if there’s anything you can do for them. If they seem to deny that they are struggling, mention that if there’s anything they need, you will listen. You can also work with your team member to adapt their work arrangements to reduce stress and find ways of working that better suit their needs.
- If your employee does say that there is something wrong, offer help. Point out that their insurance covers mental healthcare. Mention any employee assistance programs the business may have.
- Mention that there is no shame in seeking help. It’s not a sign of weakness to feel this way, and neither is it to speak to a health professional.
Finally, point out that there are remote therapy sessions, too. This can be good if you run a remote business. To learn more about online therapy, click here.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com.
With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with
mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.