Signs and symptoms of mental ill health

Let’s take a look at some of the signs and symptoms to look out for, as well as talk about how recognising these signs at an early stage can help your employees more effectively.

Of course, the definition of ‘mental ill health’ or ‘mental health issues’ covers a very wide spectrum, from the worries and grief we all experience as part of everyday life to suicidal thoughts, psychotic depression or a complete loss of touch with everyday reality.

Many people experience ‘symptoms’ of a mental health problem as part of their daily lives without having a diagnosed mental health condition. For example, many people experience anxiety, distress, sleeplessness, irritability and poor concentration on a daily basis – the difference is the severity and duration as well as the impact these symptoms pose on the person’s everyday life.

As employers and managers, I am not expecting you to become specialist in the field of mental health but it is essential that you gain a basic awareness of the signs and symptoms to look out for and you know how to access support and help should you or your employees need it. The biggest tip I can give you is the more attention you pay to your staff the more likely it is that you will recognise when things are not quite right as for many people their manager is the is best places to recognise any changes in behaviour or performance.   By being more self aware, not only will you recognise these signs and symptoms in others – but also yourself.

It is important to be aware that often it is not just one symptom that will present itself; many will experience a number of symptoms.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself…

Have you recognised 2 or more….

Changes in their physical appearance?

Are they looking more tired than usual? Do they seem flat or drained of energy? Do they seem more fidgety and more nervous than usual? Have they had a pattern of illness or do they appear constantly run down? Are they eating more or less or drinking more alcohol than usual? Are they complaining of any other physical health issues such as migraines or headaches?

Changes in their mood?

Do they seem more irritable, snappy and fly off the handle when they didn’t use to? Do they appear more anxious and worried about everything? Does their emotional response seem inappropriate for the situation? Do they appear more temperamental, or prone to inappropriate outbursts of anger? Do they appear overwhelmed by tasks that they have previous found manageable?

Changes in their behaviour?

Do they seem less sociable and more withdrawn? Are they more apathetic? Have they lost interest in hobbies or activities which they previously found pleasurable? Do they seem to have difficulty concentrating or do they appear distracted? Have you noticed that they appear to be taking on more work in order to avoid being in any social situations? Are they not preforming to their normal usual standard?

Changes in how they express their thoughts?

Do they have a tendency to catastrophise everything – are things always ‘terrible’? Do they appear to interpret situations negatively – such as concluding that two people meeting are really discussing their performance? Do they appear to personalise everything? Have you noticed their thoughts appear confused or irrational? Are they complaining that they are finding it difficult to switch off?

If you have noticed two or more of any of these, it may be that your team member needs some extra support. The key point is recognising a key ‘change’ in behaviour. Therefore it is your responsibility as employers and managers to know your staff.

Stacy Thomson

Mental Health Coaching combats and helps to prevent work related stress and other mental health conditions.  For more information regarding my Coaching services; including mental health training please contact me at stacy@impactcoaching or via my website