22nd March 2021

Our mental health is linked to our thoughts, our thoughts affect our feelings, and our feelings manifest our behaviour.

People in the workplace say and do things that may have an impact on other individuals. To explore this fully, we need to accept that different individuals can be impacted differently.

Mental health is like a fingerprint – we all go through different experiences and different emotions.

We all go through circumstances differently – this explains why:

When two people witness a crime, the explanation of what happened from the two individuals will be different – the basics will be the same but the explanation and the experience of the crime will be different. And this isn’t because they have seen something different, but because they have experienced it differently.

In this article, we’ll look at the factors you can identify at work, which may be signals of an employee’s mental health not being what it once was.

Behaviours and factors

We all go through good and bad days – our mental wellbeing can even change from hour-to-hour but the key is if a person can bounce back. If they can’t, this is where we’ll, unfortunately, see peoples mental health issues spiral.

Because we don’t know what our employees are thinking or feeling (unless they tell us). How do we recognise when someone isn’t able to bounce back – what are the external factors we can look out for?

The key identifier is a person’s behaviour. This is because, as we mention at the start of this article: Our mental health is linked to our thoughts, our thoughts affect our feelings, and our feelings manifest our behaviour.

More specifically a person’s behavioural change and this plays testament to why the best leaders have such a deep relationship with the people they lead – they’re able to spot these changes in behaviour early and identify them.

So what could these behaviours include, and what should leaders be looking out for in the workplace? We’ve put together a few common occurrences which link to a person’s mental wellbeing, but remember, everyone is different:

Isolating: If someone is feeling isolated or alone they tend to isolate themselves further.

Argumentative: A colleague may be more argumentative or disagree more than usual.

Appearance: there might be a change in appearance. We’re not talking about looking scruffy here, but a shift in someone’s pride in appearance. Are they doing things differently: not washing their hair as much or not ironing their shirt for work anymore?

Performance: has their workplace performance changed, without any internal change to their role?

Withdrawal: someone who withdraws – not just in work or on a webinar but possibly on their social media: have they removed themselves from a work WhatsApp group?

Language: a change in their language: “oh that always happens to me”

Swearing: someone who didn’t use to now does a lot

Smell: not the smell when you’ve been out the night before, but possibly that they’re carrying a lingering alcohol smell which wasn’t there before.

Remember we’re looking for a shift in their behaviour. Not that they are necessarily doing things extremely worse. Any of these above behaviours could indicate that your colleague is suffering from a mental wellbeing issue.

How to approach the issue of mental health in the workplace

Identifying a possible issue is a start, but how do we prepare our key people to follow up?

A hands-on approach is best. By educating key people within your organisation (line managers, HR, leadership team) we start to build bridges around the stigma of mental wellbeing in the workplace.

“Training breaks down the barriers associated with the stigmatisation of mental health.”

Educating your line managers on:

  1. How to approach a person thoughtfully and with the right language
  2. To understand the difference between sympathy and empathy
  3. Communicate effectively without getting any wires crossed

Companies who have trained their employees on these 3 key principles have seen a more effective work environment, happier staff, an increase in performance, and a reduction in sick leave.

If you want to learn more about how you can train your employees about mental wellbeing in the workplace, get in contact today.