Published On: December 13, 2021|871 words|4.4 min read|

Supporting Mental Health at Work

Many of us spend a large amount of our time at work, in close proximity to our colleagues and teammates. With the average full-time hours coming in at around 37 hours a week, we are highly likely to experience turbulent times within this timeframe, as are those around us.

Whether work-related or due to personal issues, stress can often get the better of us. Be it deadlines, finances, relationships or family problems, there are many things that can trigger our mental state whilst other times it can be brought on by something completely undetectable.

When stress escalates into something more serious, as it often can, it is important we know what actions to take. There are a number of ways we can look out for our staff and colleagues by spotting the signs of those in crisis.

The value added to the economy by people who are at work and have or have had mental health problems is as high as £225 billion per year, which represents 12.1% of the UK’s total GDP. It is therefore integral that we value and protect staff in order to maintain a productive and happy workplace.

How to Spot Mental Health Issues at Work
As many of us are often reluctant to disclose our mental health difficulties to our employers and colleagues, the signs can be difficult to look out for if not educated on them correctly. Here is a list of some of the key signs of mental health difficulties.

  • Uncharacteristic behaviour – Is this person behaving in a different way than they normally would? This may involve being snappy and angry, being quieter than normal or perhaps crying frequently.
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns – A noticeable lack of apatite or perhaps eating a lot more frequently could be a sign of distress. Sleeping patterns may also alter so stay vigilant if this person appears more tired than normal too.
  • Unexplained absences – Taking the occasional day off work due to illness or personal issues is completely normal. However, more frequent days with little or no explanation as to why may be a cause for concern and may suggest this person is struggling with their mental health.
  • A lack of productivity – Does this person appear less engaged and interested in work than normal? During times of difficulty, it can often be hard to concentrate on our usual duties.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse – If you suspect someone is abusing alcohol and drugs this can often be a telltale sign of a mental health issue. It can be common for people to use these as a form of escapism during difficult times. It may also be a sign of an addiction problem.
  • Withdrawal from social situations – When your employees or co-workers start to avoid social interactions such as eating with others at lunch or avoiding after-work plans, this may suggest that this person is trying to isolate themselves or experiencing feelings of detachment.

What can you do to support them?
One of the best things you can do for someone who you suspect may be suffering is make yourself available to them. This could mean letting them know you’re open to chatting with them about whatever problems or struggles they may be facing, without interrogating them on what the issues may be. If they know you’re available for support, they may be more likely to reach out and confide in you.

If the individual does decide to speak to you, make sure they are aware it is in confidentiality. This will build trust and make the person feel safer and more willing to discuss their issues. Aim to remain non-judgmental, calm and understanding.

Reaching out and checking in on people is a great way to show you care and value your colleagues and employees. This may involve using your initiative and starting the conversation first, rather than waiting for them to come to you. Regularly checking in can give people the much-needed opportunity to open up.

Be aware that when asking most people how they are, the easy response is to reply “I’m fine”. Asking someone how they are twice, shows them subtly, that you want to know how they really feel. This may lead to them disclosing more information than they normally would whilst breaking down any barriers between you.

Mental Health First Aid Course at Complete Training Solutions
Complete Training Solutions offer an intensive two-day Mental Health First Aid course to further support you and your workplace in whatever industry you work in. It teaches individuals how to recognise the signs that someone may need support with their mental health and offer the correct help.

This course aims to address the uncertainty around how to act, by equipping individuals with the knowledge and confidence to recognise mental health problems and enable them to respond helpfully. In addition to being able to start positive conversations about mental health, a trained Mental Health First Aider is also a role model for how to manage, understand and support mental health, ultimately supporting your overall workforce and workplace.

To find out more about this course or to inquire about enrolling, visit the Mental Health First Aid webpage here.

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