Rise of Mental Health Issues In The Workplace & What You Can Do About It
If you’re a business owner or you work in management, you understand that employees, like everyone, have their good days and bad days. One day you might walk around the office and see a group of happy faces as people laugh and banter each other like they would outside of work. The next day the mood might have shifted to a more doom and gloom kind of atmosphere.
Fluctuations in mood within the workplace are common and to be expected — at the end of the day, work is work and no matter how much we claim to love our jobs, we’d all rather be doing something else!
However, when a person’s emotional health and behavioural patterns are out of check for an extended period of time, it’s important to take a closer look.
Running the Numbers: Prevalence of Employee Mental Health in the Workplace
Employee mental health problems in the UK are more common than you might think, with many workplaces reporting an increase in cases each year. In fact, mental health statistics in the UK1 have shown:
- As many as 1 in 7 people experience some form of mental health problems at work.
- Women in full-time employment are twice as likely to have a common mental health problem than men.
- Of all sick days recorded in the UK, 13% are as a result of mental health conditions.
The UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) conducted a recent survey showing that as of January 2021, mental wellbeing has hit an all time low across the country. When compared next to Champion Health’s Employee Health Statistics survey2, the figures read:
- Over half (58%) of employees reported to suffer from depression.
- 69% said they experienced high levels of stress at work.
- 73% had a hard time relaxing.
- 63% claimed to be experiencing anxiety.
- The Covid 19 pandemic was said to have impacted a staggering 90% of the employees surveyed.
As an employer, you must put your employees health and safety first — not just physically, but also mentally. That’s very important!
Many businesses across the UK have already begun implementing strategies to address their employees mental health, with the intention to catch the problem before it turns into a crisis.
These days so many of us are working around the clock, and often spending a lot more time at work than we do with our families. Wellbeing for employees has always been important, but never more so than it is today!
Common Causes of Employee Mental Health Disorders
Mental health issues are often difficult to spot, especially in the workplace where emotions often rise and fall. But many of the most common conditions give off tell tale signs allowing early detection which is crucial to helping someone from developing more severe symptoms.
Some of the major categories of employee mental health to look out for include:
- Stress — stress from work can often aggravate an existing mental health problem and make it a lot worse. Getting frustrated all the time or is easily agitated are common signs of stress in the workplace.
- Depression — this can occur when people have mental health problems they find hard to deal with and regularly look or feel down. Sadness and loss of interest are signs to look out for.
- Anxiety — many people suffer from anxiety in one form or another, but when someone is feeling nervous and tense, or they’ve been avoiding group activities it might be a sign of something more serious.
Possible Warning Signs of Employee Mental Health Disorders in the Workplace
Everyone is different, and it’s important to note that two employees with the same mental health disorder may present with differing symptoms. But the key is knowing when something is not right and taking action to help the person receive the care they need.
With this in mind, there are multiple factors that determine how a mental health problem may present in an employee. A persons age, sex, personalily type, and culture all play a part in his or her emotional and behavioural health.
Yet, there are some big picture behaviours and patterns that can clue employers and managers into potential problems. If you happen to notice any of the following symptoms, be sure to reach out for help to get more information. It could be a warning sign for a larger issue.
- Absent from work for extended periods of time
- A decrease in productivity or ability to work
- Disengagement from group activities and social situations
- Excessive worrying and anxiety beyond anything with normal explanation
- Disinterest in their appearance and health
- Getting easily angered and behaving erratically
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
- Abusing drugs and alcohol as a way to self-medicate
If any of your employees is presenting with one or more of these symptoms, there is hope, but you need to take action! Mental health first aid training courses (MHFA) are available to you. Your employees can get better.
What Your Workplace Can Do to Help
Okay, so now that you know the extent of the problem, common causes, and the possible warning signs of employee mental health conditions, it’s time to take a closer look at what ‘you’ as a business owner, or manager can do to help your staff at a time when they need it most.
You Should Have People Employees Can Trust More Than Managers
It’s not uncommon for employees in the workplace to feel intimidated or distanced from managers. Many workers hold managers in a different regard than their fellow employees and co-workers.
Most see managers as people they need to try and please. And as a result, a lot of employees feel they can’t develop the same close friendship they could with say one of their co-workers. This is totally understandable.
However, it’s a good idea to have people within a business organisation that others feel they can talk to about personal matters. People that maybe aren’t held in the same status as managers, but have the power to make changes and help employees when they are in need. Examples of these people include:
- Section leaders
- Human resource workers
- Union reps
- Colleagues with more job experience
- Employees from diverse cultural backgrounds and identities
- Employees passionate about mental health
- Employees that are likeable, easy going and easy to talk to that people seem to trust and gather around
Trust is massive when it comes to a person suffering with mental health issues. It can literally make the difference between a person bottling up their physiological or emotional distress, or having the trust and confidence to go and vent to someone.
Managers can be bullies at times and many times can be part of the problem, so it’s important that other people in the company are trained to be supportive figures that employees feel safe around.
To learn more about what your workplace can do to help check out our blog on Diversifying right here (insert link to diversity in the workplace blog).
How the Covid-19 Pandemic Has Affected Employees Mental Health
Many factors within the workplace have played a major role on employees mental health during the recent Covid 19 Pandemic.4 People working in all types of jobs have been affected in more ways than one, and it’s taking its toll on them.
All of these employees have been equally essential to the survival of our country during these difficult times and they’re sacrifices should not go unnoticed.
Health care employees on the frontline are one of the groups you may have seen in the media lately struggling the most. Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sleep disorders are common among these workers. However, there’s many other groups including Vulnerable workers that are in constant contact with the public also dealing with these issues on a daily basis that don’t get the recognition they deserve.
All of these employees have been expected to show up for work as usual in the midst of one of the most uncertain times in a generation, and to continue as usual. No matter how strong of a person you are, stuff like this isnt easy to deal with.
The image below highlights the extent of the problem between essential and non essential workers…
Image Source: kff.org
Most people around the country are apprehensive about leaving their houses to go out for bread and milk — nevermind work! But frontline and vulnerable workers have had to risk covid infection and the possibility of spreading it to their families every time they go to work! This, coupled with the uncertainty of the future and the constant lockdown announcements is enough to trigger mental health problems in anyone, not to mention people already struggling with issues of their own.
With the demands that have been placed on employees in the last few years it’s easy to see why so many have been suffering from:
If you’re a boss at work it’s your duty to see that employees receive the utmost care and attention at this difficult time. At the end of the day they’re the ones that earn money for your business and without them you could not survive. So, going forward, be sure to put their personal needs at the forefront of your mind before anything else. It’s as simple as that!
What’s expected from Workplaces Today?
As times change and millennial culture is continuing to shake things up, more and more people have greater expectations from workplaces today.
We have seen the detrimental effects ignoring, or failing to spot someone’s mental health problems can have. It’s serious! And put bluntly, it can be the difference in life or death in some situations.
Employee mental health issues aren’t going away anytime soon, and it’s up to managers and employers to act now if they want to keep their businesses afloat, but more importantly — keep their workers safe!
After all, they do dedicate a huge chunk of their lives to helping you run a successful business.
And remember, without them those businesses don’t succeed…
As a manager, identifying an employee with mental health issues isn’t an easy task, especially if they don’t see you as a person they can communicate easily with. The good news is there are an abundance of training available for you to consider getting involved with. Training that works. From a provider that puts mental health at the top of their agenda to help make a real difference in your workplace.
Mental Health First Aid Training – Become a qualified Mental Health First Aider through MHFA England
At EDP, we offer specialised mental health and wellbeing training for companies all over England. Our mental health first aid training courses (MHFA) provide managers with in-depth knowledge of mental health, the ability to spot the early signs and identify employees who may be suffering from mental health issues. We also equip managers with the proper understanding they need in how to best support their employees, resulting in wellness and wellbeing throughout your business. Our courses work.
Interested in learning more about our courses for your employees? Check out our course offerings or contact us to speak with a member of staff. They will be only too happy to provide you with any information you need.
Guest Author: Kieran Higgins | Freelance Copywriter | kieranscopy.com