Common Signs of Mental Ill Health in the Workplace


From the 14th to 20th May 2018, it is National Mental Health Awareness Week 2018, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation.


Did you know that one in four people experience mental ill health at some point in their life? Therefore, it is important that everyone is aware of what mental health is: good and bad, things to be aware of, and understands the importance of promoting good mental health and wellbeing.


What is mental ill health?

Mental Health is the emotional, psychological and social well-being factors which affect how people think, feel and act. It also determines how we handle stress, relate to others and the choices that we make on a daily basis. Throughout their life time, people will experience a rise and fall in their mental health, depending on pressures and/or experiences in their life and how they respond to these. People may generally have good mental health but experience stress and anxiety from time to time.


Mental Ill Health

Some examples, although by no means an exhaustive list, of common metal ill health conditions are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bi-polar
  • Stress
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance misuse
  • Eating disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Phobias
  • PTSD


Why is understanding mental health important?

Sadly, there is still a certain stigma attached to mental ill health, and it is not often talked about openly, particularly amongst men. People who manage their mental health well, often work productively, interact well with colleagues and make a valuable contribution to the workplace. However, those who are affected by mental ill health may find it more difficult to cope in a working environment and need more support. Everyone is affected by mental ill health at some point in their working career, so recognising the key symptoms of mental health conditions allows us to support colleagues, staff and friends who may be suffering.


A recent study showed:

  • 37% of sufferers are more likely to get into conflict with colleagues
  • 57% find it harder to juggle multiple tasks
  • 80% find it difficult to concentrate
  • 62% take longer to do tasks
  • 50% are potentially less patient with customers/clients.

The same study found that stress is now the UK’s main cause of long term absence in both manual and non-manual worker groups.

Reference: ACAS - read more here


Common signs of mental ill health to look out for

Symptoms and signs can manifest in many ways, depending on the individual, but can include:

  • Changes in their usual behaviour, mood or how they interact with colleagues and friends
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Changes in the standard of their work, concentration, memory and focus on tasks
  • Appearing tired, anxious or withdrawn and a reduced interest in tasks they previously enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite and/or an increase in smoking and drinking
  • Increase in sickness absence or turning up for work late.
  • Change in their appearance

Not everyone who is experiencing mental ill health will show any or all of these key signs. It would be great if we could all take the time to ask colleagues and friends how they are, taking a genuine interest in their reply, to create a positive, open and supportive environment where people feel ‘safe’ to talk.


Support and positive action

As well as local GP’s, there are many charities locally and nationally who provide information, advice, support and/or interventions for people living with mental ill health, either in a group or individual setting.  If you or someone close to you is experiencing difficulty, the following may be useful contacts and sources of information:

If a team member’s mental ill health amounts to a disability the company should consider reasonable adjustments to help the employee carry out their role with being at a disadvantage.

Whether an employee’s mental ill health amounts to a disability or not an organisation should still make changes that will help staff attend work and reduce the pressure. However any changes should be following a discussion between the manager and employee on the changes that would be beneficial.


Healthy Minds:





If you have any concerns regarding how you can support your staff, please contact Megan on 01782 969444.