7 Warning Signs Your Employee Is Mentally Struggling | Here’s How You Can Help!
In a time where depression, anxiety, and chronic stress are becoming more and more common, it is to be expected that all aspects of one’s life may be affected. And I’m not just talking about social and personal aspects but also professional.
Mental health in the workplace is a growing concern, especially in these distressing times. And let’s not forget the social stigma attached to mental health and mental disorders. These stigmas are one of the reasons why people hesitate to speak about getting the help they need.
Despite employers urging their employees to ask for help, many people still don’t feel as comfortable talking to their boss about their mental health struggles. A reason behind this could be the fear of losing their job due to mental incompetency.
Before we go ahead and learn the signs of a mentally unstable employee, let’s take a quick look at what happens when mental health affects work.
How Mental Health Affects Work?
Managers, superiors, and HRs need to understand what happens when mental health affects work. If your employee is mentally struggling then little to no action on your part can lead to them performing poorly in their tasks and struggling with finding the motivation to work.
In a 2019 study by the Mental Health Foundation, it was found that almost 45% of employees struggled with mental health while at work. Now I imagine this number has seen a spike since then.
Throw in social unrest and a global pandemic, the mental health of employees all around the world has been affected. And even now, talking about mental health in the workplace is considered a stigma.
The effects of mental health don’t stop there. Mental instability in your employee can cost your company’s revenue, affect your employee’s performance, and can also create general unrest in your organization.
Keep in mind that mental illnesses can leave a person feeling stressed, anxious, fatigued, depressed, unmotivated, and more.
It’s important, as an employer, that you keep in mind the warning signs of your employee’s declining mental health and get them the help they need. Not only for the sake of your business but also your employee’s good overall health and wellness.
Let’s check out the warning signs your employee is mentally struggling:
7 Warning Signs Of Employee Mental Health Issues
1. Their Performance Has Dropped
A drop in your employee’s performance is one of the early signs that they are mentally struggling. If your employee is procrastinating, failing to complete their tasks, or not meeting their goals, then it can be because of their mental struggles. Take a note of it and ask them about it.
2. They Are Taking More Sick Leaves
Mental health issues manifest in different ways such as mental breakdown, emotional struggles, physical illness, as well as behavioral changes. If your employee is taking sick leaves more than usual, then it could be a sign of mental struggle.
3. They Get Distracted Easily
Another sign of mentally unstable employees can be that they get distracted more easily than before. Their focus has waned and they are unable to stay mentally present at the moment. They can also exhibit signs of low energy and low motivation.
4. Their Behavior Is Out Of Character
When it comes to mental health issues at the workplace, mood swings, inability to control emotions, and behaving out of character can also be signs of a mentally unstable employee. In such instances, your employee can also become agitated, irritated, and anxious easily.
5. They Are Not Taking Of Their Physical Appearance
Mental illnesses affect a person’s motivation levels too. So if your employee comes to work disheveled and unkempt, then take it as a sign of them mentally struggling. Poor personal hygiene, lack of grooming, or dressing inappropriately are signs you should not ignore.
6. They Are Constantly Involved In Conflicts With Coworkers
If you see your employee constantly involved in conflicts with others, present an unwillingness to communicate, or socially withdrawn, then it can be a warning sign too. If they act out aggressively, get angry easily, then it is a sign that they need help. Especially if this behavior is out of character.
7, They Are Having Hard Time Making Decisions
Another important warning sign you should not ignore is; changes in your employee’s work habits and decision-making abilities. While lower than normal productivity is a big sign, having a hard time making smart decisions is also a big warning sign that your employee is mentally struggling.
Remember, apart from these above-mentioned signs, you also need to watch out for signs of substance, alcohol, or drug abuse. If you suspect your employee is struggling with addiction, you can ask them about it and help them get the support they need.
What Can You Do To Help?
Dealing with mentally unstable employees is not easy and can be very challenging if you don’t know how to help them. Here are some steps you can take to address your employee’s mental health issues:
1. Create A Plan
Before you reach out to your mentally struggling employee, it is important to create a plan and get your facts straight. Consult with the HR department or, if you have one, an in-house psychologist.
As a boss, it is your responsibility to keep in mind your company policies as well as your employees’ health. Don’t do anything rash that may affect not only your employee but also your organization.
2. Be Empathetic & Supportive
When approaching your employee, remember to be empathetic and compassionate towards them and their struggles. It’s your responsibility as their supervisor to help them find the right resources and options.
You should also show your support and not be offensive to them. Keep in mind that they are someone who needs support and empathy.
3. Listen To Them Patiently
Many people underestimate the power of listening. Give your struggling employee a chance to express their concerns in a safe space.
Let them know that you are there for them and when they open up about their struggles, make sure you listen to them patiently and do not offer unsolicited advice.
4. Make Adjustments Where You Can
Mental health struggles are different in each individual, so make sure to use a more personalized approach. If your employee is struggling with anxiety or depression, you can help them by making adjustments in their schedule where you think they can take a break.
For example, you can consider your options and offer flexible working hours to an employee who needs to make their therapy appointment during working hours.
5. Frequently Check In With Them
Motivation can take a dive when mental health struggles increase. Try to frequently check in with your employee and help them stay motivated. Take a look at their strengths and appeal to them to take more value at their tasks.
The power of positivity is strong and don’t forget that. Appealing to your employee’s strengths can help them feel less worthless and more helpful, which in turn can increase their productivity and subsequently their overall health.
6. Refer Them To A Mental Health Professional
When it’s time to approach your employee, make sure you have a list of licensed healthcare providers to share with them. If your employee shows mentally unstable signs, they can benefit from talking with a professional mental healthcare provider, if not you.
“Prevention is better than cure” – Desiderius Erasmus
Dealing with a mentally unstable employee, prone to a mental breakdown at work, is not an easy task. You have to be very careful in your approach. Remember that employees hesitate to open up about their mental health struggles fearing loss of their job and reputation.
Keeping this in mind, you need to be open and honest with your employees about your approach to mental health issues in the workplace. Toxic workplace, work-related stress are some causes that can affect your employees’ mental health.
Can you help? Yes! How? By breaking down the stigmas surrounding mental health issues, being empathetic, and showing compassion towards your employee and their concerns.
Taking care of your mental health is the first step in taking care of your overall health and wellness. Don’t ignore the signs when you need a mental health break. Ask for help when you need it.
Help is available if you’re struggling with mental health or if your employee is. You can always find help with us! Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on social media. You can also share your opinions in the comments below!
Mental health matters too!