How To Spot The Warning Signs Of Mental Illness In The Workplace

Published: 13 Jun 2018

mental illness at work

We're extremely passionate about workplace well-being at Only Marketing Jobs for a number of reasons. Every one of us has been touched by mental illness in some way, whether we've personally suffered or been connected to someone who has. This year, we've placed a particular focus on workplace mental health through our content and the impact that mental illness can have on your career. You might be surrounded by colleagues who are struggling with a mental health issue that they are unaware of it or they might feel as though they have to suffer in silence. We wanted to highlight some top-line signs and symptoms to look out for if you're worried about a colleague. With a little knowledge and empathy, you really can make all the difference to someone's mental health experience at work:

*We have to stress, these are just some of the signs and symptoms to look out for these specific illnesses. We fully appreciate the complexity of each beast and how differently one person can suffer in comparison to another. 

 

Anxiety

People experiencing anxiety might:

  • Avoid certain situations
  • Complain regularly of a headache
  • Suffer from nausea and/or stomach pain
  • Have a rapid heart rate
  • Feel removed from reality
  • Feel dizzy or light-headed
  • Appear tense

Depression

People experiencing depression might:

  • Have little energy
  • Feel restless
  • Have difficulty sleeping
  • Suffer from low confidence
  • Experience a decrease in appetite
  • Smoke or drink excessively
  • Display evidence of self-harming

Eating disorders

People experiencing an eating disorder might:

  • Obsess over food
  • Display dramatic behavioural changes
  • Possess distorted beliefs about their own body image
  • Experience a lack of energy
  • Excessively exercise
  • Take toilet trips immediately after eating meals

OCD

People experiencing OCD might:

  • Often be late for work, usually arriving unsettled and flustered
  • Take time off unexpectedly without reason
  • Be more irritability than usual and respond badly to certain situations
  • Lack in concentration
  • Avoid certain objects or situations
  • Experience difficulty being around other people at times

 

What can you do to support? 

 

Listen

Don't make judgements and just be there to lend an ear. Sometimes, just being able to talk to someone can make the biggest difference for someone who is struggling to cope whilst at work.

 

Don't try to diagnose 

Mental illnesses are extremely complex, and underneath each generalised condition are a number of different illnesses, some of which are defined and some of which are not. 

 

Ask them what you can do to help them

Find out what you can do as a colleague or manager to help them to cope with their mental illness in the workplace. 

 

Avoid any kind of unpleasant confrontation 

It's quite possible that someone at work has exhibited some undesirable behaviours, for example, they may have snapped at you or another colleague. Try not to jump straight to conclusions and take your time to establish the route cause first.

 

Encourage them to seek professional help 

This is extremely important. There are a number of great things you can do to support someone at work, but treating them is not one of those things. Encourage them to seek out professional help. The best thing you can do is provide as much understanding and support as possible. 

 

We spend a significant amount of our time during the week at work, and it's imperative that we make our working environments as people-friendly as possible, as well as reflective of the challenges of modern society. We are passionate about eradicating the stigma of mental illness, and fostering openness in the workplace is a step towards doing this. Real success in your job, depending on what motivates you, can be encouraging and facilitating the growth of others, and this includes the entire spectrum of what makes a person who they are. Do something positive and just be there for someone. 

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