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The Impact of Poor Mental Health in a Workplace

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There is no denying it, the past 2-years have been tough on lots of people, having a huge effect on workers’ mental health. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation, Covid-19 has led to a 25% increase in anxiety and depression across the world. That is why now more than ever it is important for employers to know the signs of mental health issues, the impact they can have on their business, and how they can and should help. 

What are the signs of poor mental health?

Too often the signs of mental illness are missed by workplaces, causing the issues to develop and grow bigger. That’s why it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of mental health issues so you can offer the support and services the team member requires. 

  • Mood changes – The employee displays dramatic changes in mood.
  • Apathy – Loss of desire to participate in team tasks.
  • Unusual Behaviour – They are displaying unusual, often uncharacteristic behaviours.
  • Avoiding social activities – They are showing no desire to be involved in any activities with other people. 
  • Absenteeism – The employee is calling in sick at an increased rate, or is regularly taking last-minute leave at an unusual rate.

The negative effects mental health at work can have on an employee

It is important as a business to help employees when you see the signs of mental health issues early before it affects their ability to work effectively. Below is a list of some of the effects of mental health in the workplace:Mental Health

  • Less engagement at work
  • Failure in communication with team members
  • Lower physical capability 
  • Performance and productivity drops
  • Their negativity can rub off and create a toxic environment for others

A healthy workplace is important for both business and employee

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission a total of 3.2 days each year are lost per worker due to workplace stress, resulting in workers compensation claims to double in recent years, costing over $146 million each year. Up to 25% of workers say they take time off each year due to stress-related reasons. 

How to approach the team member if you suspect they need help

Now you know the signs of mental health issues, and the effects they have on the employee and the business, it’s important to offer help to the employee. This can be a difficult task to do. 

  • Approach the issue delicately – It’s important to note that employees in Australia do not have to disclose any mental health issues. However, as an employer, you can approach the employee about any lack in performance, or any attitude issues. They might often explain the reasoning. 
  • Listen and have empathy – If the employee shares with you any mental health issues, listen to what they have to say with genuine empathy. It’s important to work out how severe the issue is, taking note that you aren’t an expert, and won’t have the answers to solve their situation. 
  • Suggest support outside of work – Often employers have third party providers that offer great support for employees experiencing mental health issues. These are great places to suggest help for them. If the workplace doesn’t have an agreement then suggesting they talk to a professional is a great idea. 
  • Offer support at work – Sometimes the cause of the issue is related to the working environment. Their hours or role could be affecting them and causing the issues. Ask if a change in hours or role would help them. As an employer you are legally required to make reasonable adjustments for the worker in the workplace to help support them.
  • Don’t disclose to others – Unless the employee has done so already, do not disclose any illness to others. If questions are asked regarding any changes in hours or roles made to accommodate the employee, respond with generic answers: “Jane has asked for a change of hours/role for a short period of time due to personal circumstances”. 

We can train you to help

JEM training can help you to develop the skills required to have difficult conversations with employees, effective communication skills, how to resolve personal conflict and how to manage poor performance. If you want to hear more, contact Jill for further information or to book a session. 

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JEM Management Training

JEM Management Training designs and delivers flexible, in-house management training courses to help  organisations in Perth engage their staff fully in the workplace.

As time is often limited, JEM Training offers flexible half-day management training courses which focus on a specific area of management expertise. These short courses build upon each other over a period of time, chosen by you, to provide ongoing management development.

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