The dialogue around mental health in the workplace is becoming more widely accepted. However, there is still work to be done. There are key mental health challenges still plaguing thousands of employees on a day-to-day basis.
What are the most common mental health challenges in the workplace?
In the workplace, the most common mental health issues are stress, depression and anxiety. According to statistics from Champion Health, around 58% of working professionals have experienced at least mild symptoms of anxiety, with nearly a quarter meeting the threshold for a clinical definition of anxiety.
For depression, over half of the UK workforce has experienced at least mild symptoms of depression and 22% have reported clinically relevant symptoms in the past. The majority of employees (67%) are currently experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the workplace.
What are the key stressors in the workplace?
Heavy workload – workload is the most frequently reported stressor at work. Having too much work can mean longer-than-normal hours, resulting in stressed and tired employees. If employees are doing too much work, there should be an open dialogue between the employee about how much they can take on and their management team to efficiently manage deadlines and prioritisation of tasks. Even a ‘heavy’ workload can be too much, resulting in personal injuries and competitive straining which affects an employee’s quality of life, according to Claims Bible.
Ambiguity about job role or leadership – if an employee is unclear about their rules and responsibilities, and there is a lack of communication between employees and management, it creates a stressful environment. Similarly, if employees lack direction or do not have clear objectives about their career trajectory, it can be difficult for them to stay motivated and creates a sense of uncertainty.
Lack of support – if employees lack support or a platform to be heard, they are likely to feel frustrated and underappreciated which can take a toll on their mental health. Employees should also be made to feel recognised and valued, otherwise they can soon become unmotivated.
Poor relationships – when workplace relationships are bad, it can make going to work an uncomfortable experience. Employees should promote a friendly and respectful working culture and should create a safe space for talking about any issues that may arise.
How can you spot mental health issues in the workplace?
There is still a great deal of negative stigma around mental health at work, with many employees still uncomfortable about disclosing any issues they may be experiencing to employers or other colleagues.
Spotting mental health issues can be difficult, especially in a remote working culture; however, there are certain things that employees, managers and employers can be looking out for:
- Increased absences – if you notice that an employee is taking more short-term absences than usual, it could reflect that there is an ongoing problem and a potential mental health issue
- Low engagement – you may recognise low engagement, difficulty concentrating or a lack of motivation. These could be signs of an underlying mental health issue
- Employees acting out of character – if a team member doesn’t seem like themselves, it may suggest that they are experiencing a personal mental health issue
- Decreased productivity – those suffering with mental health issues could appear distracted and unproductive. They may be producing work at a slower pace or of a lower quality
- Changes in working patterns – if employees start to show erratic working patterns such as frequent absences, arriving late or leaving early, it could indicate that something else is going on
Withdrawal from social situations – this could be more difficult to spot when working remotely but if you sense that employees are more withdrawn and isolated from colleagues, it could suggest that they are suffering with mental health issues.