7 Potential Signs of Poor Mental Health at Work

When employees have good mental health, they are better able to handle their jobs. Did you know that 40% of both short and long-term disability claims are due to mental health issues?

It may be hard to recognize the signs of poor mental health at work as mental health issues are not visible to outsiders the same way that physical illness is. That makes it even more important that employers go above and beyond to show they care about their employee’s mental health and to implement programs that help those affected with this condition cope.

These seven potential signs of poor mental health at work should alert you that an employee or coworker needs help:

Sign #1: Absenteeism

Absenteeism is a potential sign of poor mental health at work. When you start to notice that an employee is taking a lot of short-term absences (missing work for a day or two), it may be a sign that they are suffering from a mental health issue.

Often, employees may feel the stigma that is associated with mental health and may not admit that this is what they are going through. It may be a good idea to check-in with these employees when they return from work. Make sure they know that there are plenty of workplace mental health services and resources available, should they need them.

Sign #2: Changes in Physical Appearance

If you notice that an employee who usually shows up to work perfectly groomed and then all of a sudden, they start dressing the complete opposite, it may be a sign of poor mental health. Maybe they are wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt, and their hair looks unwashed.

All of these point to signs of poor mental health at work. You may let this go for some time but if it continues, you may need to talk to your employee about their dress code. Use this as an opportunity to see if it’s a mental health issue and offer ways to help.

Sign #3: Mental Health Outbursts

If an employee who is usually quiet and respectful starts to display emotional outbursts or mood swings, this may be a sign of poor mental health at work. Does this employee seem to get upset about little things? Or things that usually don’t bother them?

Be on the lookout for things like anger, yelling, irritation, agitation, nervousness, worry, and the employee acting tense. These are all visible signs of poor mental health at work. You can take them aside and try to figure out if it’s their mental health that’s bothering them.

Sign #4: Decrease in Work Performance

Have you noticed that this employee’s performance has decreased? Be on the lookout of signs relating to performance including them seeming uninterested in their work, coming into work late or needing to stay late often to finish their work, and taking longer to perform their regular tasks.

These employees may often look exhausted, have difficulty making a decision, have low-energy, and display irritation at little things. Be attentive when you notice these signs of poor mental health at work. Have a conversation with them about their performance and try to get to the bottom of what is bothering them. Be kind and gentle throughout your conversation and ensure you communicate that you are there for them and just trying to help.

Sign #5: Social Isolation

When people suffer from mental illness, they tend to withdraw. That’s why it may be indicative of a mental health issue if you notice your employee no longer wants to take part in social activities. This may be them declining lunch events, or not showing up to company social events.

It’s always important to look at their behaviour as a whole to try and figure out if this is out of character for them. If so, you may want to pull them aside and show them that you are worried about them. This may get them to open up to you and tell you what is going on. Make sure to show them that you are genuinely interested and care about their well-being.

Sign #6: Behaviour Changes

Know what the signs are for someone who is suffering from a mental health issue. Some behaviour changes include the employee expressing anger, which is uncharacteristic of them, being irritable or agitated, seeming worried and passive, and being in a bad mood a good part of the time.

If you notice these signs of poor mental health at work, especially if they are not how this person usually acts, reach out to that employee and try to get them to tell you what is going on.

Sign #7: Physical Symptoms

Mental health issue doesn’t just affect a person’s mental health. There are plenty of physical symptoms that come with mental illness. Some of these include fatigue, insomnia, changes in weight, changes in appetite, headaches, nausea, and more. An employee who is displaying these symptoms may be battling a mental health issue, especially if you notice these symptoms in conjunction with the other signs listed in this blog.

One of the best things you can do is know the signs of a mental health issue at work so you can offer assistant to your employees if it looks like they need it.