Data suggests that a staggering 1 in 5 Americans will struggle with mental health issues at some time in their lives, with nearly three-quarters of episodes starting before the age of 24.
Responsible employers, therefore, are adapting the way they work and looking out for the signs that a colleague is in trouble.
But how can you tell if there’s a problem? What are the signs that a team member is struggling with their mental health? And what can you do to help?
5 Signs of a Mental Illness
Everyone has bad days occasionally, but if a bad day lasts several weeks, it could be a symptom of a larger problem. The symptoms of a mental illness can manifest in many ways, as the feelings experienced internally by the person reflect externally in their behavior.
It’s easy to notice such changes in a person who is usually very productive and engaged at work. Here are a few signs to look out for.
Decreased quality of work
If a normally high-performing employee’s output has slowed significantly, this could be a sign of illness. Mental health problems often manifest as a lack of motivation and inability to focus.
Mental illnesses can make it extremely difficult for someone to get out of bed in the morning and manage their time effectively. This can lead to increased tardiness and absenteeism.
Change in appearance
If a normally well-groomed team member starts regularly showing up to work in sweatpants and with unkempt hair, this could be a cause for concern. It indicates a difficulty in handling daily tasks.
Lack of engagement
Avoiding social interaction with coworkers and seeming withdrawn can be an indicator of mental health problems. Depression can leave a person without the energy for such interactions, and anxiety can make someone very fearful of them.
If a team member is consistently complaining and generally negative, this low mood could be due to mental illness, especially depression. Frequent mood swings and outburst also fall into this category. The inability to handle small problems can be a symptom of high stress.
How To Reach Out to Someone Struggling
The Center for Workplace Mental Health teaches how to respond to signs of mental illness using the NOTICE. TALK. ACT. program. The affected person may know they have a mental illness but be afraid to bring it up with their employer. Or they may be unable to identify what is going on. By reaching out with kindness and concern, you’ll be able to support them.
Notice - The first step is to notice the warning signs in your colleague’s behavior. Then you can reach out to them in support.
Talk - Ask the person how they are doing. Create a safe environment for them to openly share their feelings. This isn’t the time to give advice or propose solutions, it’s a time to be a good listener.
Act - Connect the person with the appropriate support, such as the Employee Assistant Program. Continue to treat them with care and respect; check in periodically to see how they are doing.
Other Ways to Promote Health at Work
Life is stressful for everyone, and practicing healthy habits at work will proactively support your team. It provides coping mechanisms that can help people to manage stress before it turns into illness and to handle the symptoms of existing illness.
Here’s some ideas of what you can do to support the mental health of your team members:
Maximize natural light in the office.
Provide healthy snacks for energy.
Promote a healthy work-life balance.
Model self-care for your team.
Make time for laughter and social interaction.
Provide opportunities for professional development.
Ensure workloads are reasonable.
Encourage your employees to take their lunch break.
Show appreciation for your team members and their contributions.
Employees who are healthy and happy are able to thrive in their work. They are an uplifting force in an organization, and what manager doesn’t want that energy on their team?
Here at adNET, we are so grateful for our wonderful team and the fantastic people we get to work with. We support our clients mainly through technology and outsourced IT services, but we aren’t robots. We’re people too, and we understand the importance of the human element in business.
We hope this article will help your and your team be healthy and happy in this new year!