Spotting the signs

Laura Morrison Employment

Business can be complex at the best of times – whilst it can be rewarding and enjoyable, whatever your role, managing information that changes quickly, meeting sales quotas and targets, and negotiating with customers and suppliers can mean that it is important for employees to build resilience.

Do you know how to spot the early warning signs of stress, depression, and other mental health issues with your colleagues?

The best thing that employers and individuals can do is be alert to the signs of stress, and other mental health issues, as intervening at an early stage can minimise the risk and impact to the individual, the business, colleagues and potentially the public.

Staff training can help employees to spot the signs of stress and mental health issues in themselves and others. This should be ideally covered as part of induction and be part of ongoing training and CPD in the workplace.

For example, stress in itself is not an illness, but over prolonged periods can lead to mental and physical health issues, poor performance and attendance issues. The causes of stress can be workplace related or personal, and are often caused by a combination of factors.

Salutem Health is a company working in the field of Workplace Behavioural Health, and their head of services, Richard Renson advises that you look out for changes in behaviour such as colleagues struggling to deal with emotions, tearfulness, or aggression, or significant changes in workplace performance and attendance patterns.

Richards says,

“The good news is that with support, those suffering with mental health issues can be rehabilitated in the workplace and improve self-esteem, to recover and become engaged and productive again, once underlying causes are addressed and treated.

We help employers assess current policies, and can provide staff training and case management, through to dealing with, and providing intervention on behavioural issues such as misuse of drugs, alcohol or other compulsive behaviours that individuals may adopt as coping mechanisms to deal with their condition.”

Employee wellbeing can be impacted by issues such as job design, working hours and staffing levels.

Recent statistics from the NHS suggest that 1 in 4 adults will experience a mental health issue at some point. It can affect people at all levels, and can be a higher risk for managers and professionals, so it is critical employers provide training, employee assistance programmes and access to confidential support to employees, to identify, manage and prevent cases to ensure employee wellbeing and company performance.

Encouraging an open and honest conversation with employees that may be experiencing issues, properly supported by HR professionals to ensure employees do not suffer bullying, harassment or discrimination due to their health issues is essential.

Steps such as providing online access to self-assessment and workplace training to enable employees and line managers to identify problems at an early stage, and seek appropriate support are steps that you can take to proactively manage employee wellbeing.

Treatment and rehabilitation can include conventional medicine, under supervision of a GP or qualified medical professional, through to talking therapies and counselling, resilience training and changes to job design to support employees who may be managing a mental health condition.

Theresa May has recently called for the stigma around mental health to be tackled in workplaces and society, so training colleagues in listening skills and reviewing current policies, as well as identifying how your company can respond, in the event that a staff member presents behavioural health issues, is a fundamental part of good management practice, and ensures you are meeting the moral and legal duty of care in the workplace.

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Get advice

For confidential advice or to find out more about workplace behavioural health and request an initial Wellbeing Policy Review, please contact 0207 9932060 or visit