“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always”, wrote bestselling author Brad Meltzer.
When managing a team, it’s important to be aware that often what you see in your colleagues is just the tip of the iceberg. Ill mental health can strike at any time and isn’t always triggered a response to acute trauma, such as a bereavement or a relationship breakdown. As a result, it’s important to be aware of the early signs of poor mental health in order to address them, reduce the impact and if required help your colleagues to recover faster.
Symptoms of ill mental health can largely be split into three categories; physical, psychological and behavioural.
Physical Symptoms of Mental Ill Health
Physical symptoms can be easy to see, but also easy to overlook. Examples include sudden weight gain or weight loss and moving very slowly or being restless and agitated. A more extreme example is an individual suffering a panic attack where they may begin to shake, sweat and struggle to catch their breath.
Psychological Symptoms of Mental Ill Health
Successfully spotting psychological signs relies heavily on the manager and team member having a good relationship so that the manager can recognise what “normal” looks like for that individual. If a colleague seems more distracted and confused than usual, or is tearful and finding it hard to make the kind of decisions they usually make easily, it might be time to talk.
Behavioural Symptoms of Mental Ill Health
Behavioural signs in the workplace are often mistaken for the employee being disinterested or disengaged, when really, it’s the tip of their iceberg and the colleague has begun to experience a decline in their mental health. Examples of behavioural signs include poor time keeping, missed deadlines, irritability and withdrawnness, all which can be mistaken for the employee “slacking”, but in fact, can be the result of a much more serious underlying issue.
This can all sound a little overwhelming and a huge responsibility for one person to take on, which is where Mental Health First Aiding can be invaluable. Mental health first aiders are members of staff that are trained to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide invaluable first line help.
We’re all different and not everyone will be comfortable sharing their experiences straight away. Adopting a culture of openness within your organisation helps your employees open up, knowing that their mental health will be taken as seriously as physical health.
You can read more about supporting mental health in the workplace in our blog here.
If you feel your business is ready to talk mental health, get in touch with Remit today and find out how we can help.