Mental Health In The Workplace

What is mental health and how it can affect the workplace

In this series, we’re going to look at Mental Health In The Workplace.  What it is, how it affects employees and how you can provide support as an employer.

In this first part, we’re going to look at what is mental health and how it can affect the workplace.

Everyone has mental health and just like physical health, it can be good or bad.  

When people are feeling physically unwell, they often recognise that they may be unfit for work or that they need to take some time away from work to rest and recover. 

However, there is a stigma and taboo around discussing mental health issues and people can often feel ashamed and unwilling to ask for help. Although attitudes are slowly changing, It is often still perceived  as ‘weak’ to take time out to work through mental issues.

It is estimated that as many as 1 in 6 employees suffer from some sort of mental health issue, such as anxiety, stress and depression (source: Mind.co.uk). 

By maintaining the physical and mental health of your workforce you are not only ensuring you retain your staff, but you are demonstrating the value you place on your employees.

There are many ways in which an individuals’ mental health can affect the workplace.  By recognising these affects you can more easily identify employees who are at risk and offer appropriate support (we will look at more ways to support your employees in later posts).

Here are three areas you can consider when assessing an individuals’ mental health:

Attendance

When someone is experiencing a period of poor mental health, a very common symptom is disrupted sleep patterns. This can mean anything from issues getting to sleep, staying asleep or even sleeping too much.  When your sleep is disrupted, it can be hard to get out of bed in the morning and your general energy level can be low. Employees may struggle to make it to work on time, or have frequent periods of absence.

Performance and Productivity

Another common symptom is an inability to focus or poor attention span.  This can easily affect an individuals’ performance and productivity in the workplace.  A drop in productivity levels or an increase in mistakes can be a warning sign.

Morale

Sleep disruption and poor attention span, can result in individuals’ feeling disconnected and withdrawing from social interactions.  This, in turn, can lead to a dip in morale not just for the individual employee but it could have an impact across entire teams or departments.

Now that you know what to look for we can consider ways in which you can start the discussion around mental health and provide appropriate support for your workforce. This is the topic of the next instalment in this blog series.

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