How To Help Employees Suffering From Mental Health Problems


Employees, like anyone else, can suffer from mental health issues at any time. Supporting and assisting employees struggling with mental health is essential as an employer.   

Mental health is a key aspect of one’s overall health, yet it’s often overlooked and not given the attention it deserves. Mental health can significantly impact an employee’s work performance and productivity. The effects of poor mental health on employees can be far-reaching, affecting the individual and the organization as a whole. 

Mental health problems are becoming increasingly common among employees, particularly as modern life and work demands continue to increase. Thus, employers must be able to identify the signs of mental health problems in their employees to offer support and assistance where necessary. The impact of poor mental health on employees can also extend beyond the workplace. It can affect their personal lives, relationships, and overall quality of life. This can lead to further mental health issues, creating a vicious cycle that can be challenging to break.

Signs Of Mental Health Problems In Employees

A few signs may point to someone struggling with mental health issues. These include:

  • Substance Use

Employees who are struggling with mental health problems may use alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, which can manifest as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or tremors. For example, an employee who’s struggling with depression may use alcohol as a way to numb their emotional pain. Similarly, an employee who’s experiencing high levels of stress at work may use drugs as a way to relax and escape.

As it can have severe consequences, especially to their mental health, employers need to recognize signs of substance use in employees so they can offer support where necessary. You may visit resource sites such as for comprehensive information on the topic.   

  • Changes In Behavior

One of the most noticeable indications of mental health problems in employees is changes in behavior. These could manifest in various ways, including becoming withdrawn, avoiding social situations, displaying erratic or unpredictable behavior, or experiencing mood swings. Sometimes, an employee may become more irritable, short-tempered, miss work, or turn up late regularly. They might also stop enjoying hobbies they once loved, lose interest in parts of their job they once found fulfilling, or stop participating in social activities. There could also be overt apathy present at the same time.

  • Decreased Productivity

Another common sign of mental health problems in employees is decreased productivity. This could manifest as a lack of motivation or energy or a reduced ability to focus or concentrate. They can also have trouble remembering things or thinking and speaking clearly. In addition, an employee experiencing mental health problems may also start to make more mistakes or miss deadlines, which can negatively impact the workplace’s overall productivity. 

  • Physical Symptoms

The physical signs of mental health issues might also occur. These could include headaches, back pain, fatigue, or sleep disturbances. If an employee is experiencing such symptoms that can’t be attributed to a specific medical condition, it may be a sign of underlying mental health problems. Moreover, significant changes in appetite, such as overeating or not eating enough, can be signs of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.

  • Increased Absenteeism

If an employee is experiencing mental health problems, they may start to take more time off work than usual. Being absent from work could be due to increased stress, or they could already be experiencing chronic pain or mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression. 

Moreover, anxiety or depression sufferers may experience paranoia, which means they might have difficulty positively taking even the most constructive criticism, leading to doubts about themselves and their work, harming future confidence and aptitude. Lack of confidence may also make them unwilling to show up frequently to avoid confrontation.

Suppose an employee takes more time off work than usual and shows the abovementioned signs. In that case, it’s vital to investigate the reasons behind such things and offer support and assistance where necessary.

  • Social Withdrawal

Various factors, such as personality traits, cultural background, life circumstances, or a desire for privacy, can cause social withdrawal. However, it can also be a symptom of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. In these cases, employees may isolate themselves from others, avoid social events, or become disengaged from their work.

An employee experiencing mental health problems may stop participating in team activities, avoid conversations with colleagues, or become isolated from the workplace community. Social withdrawal can harm their mental health, well-being, and ability to perform their job effectively, as they might experience unusual mood swings or helplessness, tension, or despair.  

Taking note of these manifestations can help employers easily ascertain who among their employees suffers from mental health issues. This way, proper actions can be carried out promptly.  

What Leads To Poor Mental Health Issues Among Employees

A wide range of factors can contribute to poor mental health in the workplace, including stress, unrealistic expectations, and lack of support. Here’s a detailed discussion of these elements:

  • Work-Related Stress

Work-related stress is one of the leading causes of poor mental health among employees. When employees are stressed, it can lead to burnout, anxiety, and depression. Work-related stress can come from various sources, including job insecurity, unrealistic deadlines, heavy workloads, poor communication with colleagues, and lack of control over work activities. Being constantly stressed usually leaves employees on edge, creating an unhealthy work environment.   

  • Poor Work-Life Balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial for good mental health. When employees work long hours or feel compelled to be ‘always on,’ it can negatively impact their personal lives, often leading to exhaustion and burnout. Poor work-life balance can also result in social isolation, lack of exercise, and poor sleep quality. It can also result in problems with their partners or make them feel like they’re abandoning their families. Worse, they might feel unfulfilled or like a failure. 

  • Workplace Bullying And Harassment

An employee’s mental health may be negatively impacted by bullying at work. Feelings of fear, worry, and sadness can result from harassment. Additionally, it can undermine a worker’s self-esteem and confidence, making it difficult for them to do their jobs well. When coworkers or supervisors at work make other employees feel uncomfortable or make requests against company policy, they may feel helpless and start avoiding the individuals. Being uneasy at work can lead to withdrawal or a drop in productivity.

  • Lack Of Support

Feeling unsupported at work can incredibly damage an employee’s mental health. Whether it’s a lack of support from management or colleagues, employees who don’t feel like they have anyone to turn to may experience isolation and loneliness. Lack of support can also lead to low morale and decreased job satisfaction. Over time, there’ll be a build-up of resentment in employees, and they may end up quitting.

  • Job Insecurity

In an increasingly competitive job market, job insecurity has become a common concern for many employees. Fear of losing their jobs can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. Employees may also feel pressured to work longer hours or take on extra responsibilities to demonstrate their value to the company. However, working long hours may result in them giving up on other planned activities, and they might feel unfulfilled and depressed. 

  • Poor Working Conditions

Working conditions can have a significant impact on employees’ mental health. Poor lighting, uncomfortable temperatures, and excessive noise can lead to stress and anxiety. Similarly, working in an environment with inadequate safety measures can also cause similar feelings, particularly in high-risk industries.

In addition, long working hours, inadequate pay, lack of control over work tasks, and poor relationships with colleagues and supervisors can all contribute to poor mental health. 

A clear knowledge of these triggers can help employers design a work environment ideal for employees’ mental health.

How To Assist Workers With Mental Health Issues 

As an employer, knowing how to support employees struggling with mental health issues is vital. Here are some pointers to help you in this regard:

  • Create A Supportive Workplace Culture

Employers should take steps to reduce the stigma around mental health issues and create a work culture that encourages employees to seek help when they need it. Encourage open communication, raise awareness about mental health issues, or even offer a private, non-judgmental area where staff can discuss their problems.  

Employees shouldn’t be made to feel bad for not being able to perform to the best of their abilities. A little leeway should be given to those suffering from mental health issues, so they don’t feel extra pressure from being unable to meet deadlines.   

In addition, normalize conversations about mental health. Make it commonplace for workers to speak openly and honestly about their mental health issues without worrying about stigma or reprisals. This can encourage workers to seek assistance when necessary.

  • Provide Resources And Support 

Employers should provide resources and support to employees with mental health issues. These can include employee assistance programs, counseling services, and access to mental health professionals. They should also provide education and training on mental health issues to help employees understand the symptoms and how to seek help. 

Give managers and supervisors instructions on how to spot indicators of mental health issues and how to help workers who might be having difficulties. These may involve receiving instructions in communication skills, empathy, and active listening.

Make mental health resources easily accessible to employees. These can include posters, brochures, and other materials that provide information on mental health, as well as coverage for therapy, counseling, and other related services.

  • Be Flexible And Accommodating

Employers should be flexible and accommodating toward employees with mental health issues. This could mean adjusting schedules and providing time off for appointments and treatments. Employers should also accommodate those needing additional support by providing a quieter workspace or allowing for more frequent breaks.

Consider offering flexible work arrangements to employees struggling with mental health issues. These can include remote work, reduced hours, or a more flexible schedule. Moreover, pushing them to use their vacation time can help promote a healthy work-life balance.

  • Encourage Self-Care

Encouraging self-care is an essential part of supporting employees with mental health issues. Employers can provide resources and information on healthy lifestyle habits such as exercise and a healthy diet. Employers can also encourage their staff to take breaks and emphasize self-care activities, such as taking walks, spending time with loved ones, and engaging in hobbies.  

Moreover, give workers the option of taking time off for mental health days. It can help them take a break from work and focus on their mental health needs. Furthermore, implement wellness programs that include mental health components like mindfulness, stress reduction, and relaxation techniques.

  • Follow Up And Check In

Following up and checking in with employees with mental health issues is crucial for their well-being.

Employers should make it a priority to check in with employees who have disclosed mental health issues regularly. This can involve asking how they’re doing, offering support and resources, and adjusting work arrangements. Also, determine whether they require any additional help or accommodations. Remember, mental health issues can be ongoing, so you must be patient and flexible in providing ongoing support to your employees.

It’s also essential to respect employees’ privacy and confidentiality unless they want to share their situation more widely. Ensure that any discussions or accommodations are kept private and that one’s mental health status isn’t shared with others without their consent.

These are some effective ways to address and prevent mental health issues in the workplace.


If an employer is concerned that an employee may struggle with mental health issues, it’s vital to approach the situation with sensitivity and compassion. Employers should avoid making assumptions or judgments and instead focus on providing support and resources to help employees get the help they need.

Supporting employees with mental health issues is crucial for their well-being and productivity. Employers can create a supportive workplace culture, offer flexible work arrangements, be more accommodating, encourage self-care, and follow up and check in regularly. By taking these steps, employers can help employees with mental health issues thrive in the workplace.

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