Unfortunately, mental health is still a very taboo subject even in 2021. Sigh. This means that someone you know – an employee, a friend, even a spouse or significant other – may be quietly struggling with a mental health issue but may not feel comfortable asking for help or opening up. Why? Likely because of the stigma associated with the term “mental health” as a whole, as well as with the labels of certain conditions like depression, anxiety, ADHD, or PTSD. It can be uncomfortable to come to terms with a diagnosis or even a prospective condition that you may have, let alone to let the world in on it.
For this reason, it’s important to recognize the signs when someone is struggling with their mental health. While it is ultimately their choice on whether or not they want to seek help, knowing they have the support of someone who matters in their could make all the difference and empower them to ask for the help they need life (if they’re your employee, you best believe you matter to them, their livelihood depends on it).
There are many signs of poor mental health, and they are unique to each individual. However, here are 4 general categories to start with:
Problems with focus/productivity: If you’ve ever had to work during a time where you were going through something in your personal life – a breakup, the loss of a loved one, financial struggles, etc – you know how hard it is to focus on the task at hand. Everything seems to move a little slower, your thoughts are a bit foggier, and it’s harder to stay present. This is a temporary and situational example of something that someone experiencing problems with mental health deals with every day. And when you can’t focus, you certainly can’t be productive.
Dramatic changes to behavior or appearance: This can be a tricky one because the fact that someone is changing, doesn’t always mean something is wrong. However, if a change is genuinely surprising and out of character, and it unearths a pattern of other changes, it may be worth a closer look. Poor hygiene, over or under eating, rapid weight loss or weight gain, appearing overly tired or withdrawn, and being quick to anger are all examples of changes in behavior or appearance that could be a sign of something deeper going on.
Problems keeping up with commitments: Showing up late to work/meetings, canceling appointments or drinks with coworkers, not meeting deadlines, being forgetful, and missing important details are all examples of not being able to keep up with commitments, which is a pretty strong sign that things are not totally under control in someone’s life.
When it comes to mental health the signs are often subtle, but they will be there if you know what to look for. So what can you do when it isn’t in your power to help someone? Simply let them know you’re there for them. Ask them how they’re doing each day, and let them know you genuinely care.