Mental Health Awareness Week – Spotting signs of stress in your workplace

Mirren Dougan

May 17, 2018

Mental Health Awareness Week is running from the 14th-20th May this year, the intention of the week is to focus on helping employees and employers create a mentally healthy workplace where everyone feels valued and supported. This year there is a spotlight on Stress. Research has shown that two-thirds of people experience mental health problems in their lifetime and stress is a key factor in this. At the most basic level, stress is our body’s response to pressures from a situation or life event.

At CarmichaelUK we work closely with ‘MIND’, a charity that specialises in mental health. They offer help and advice to empower anyone experiencing mental health problems and provide direct support to those who need it most. Our relationship with MIND has taught us how to support staff and candidates at every stage of the mental health spectrum. We understand the importance of addressing stress in the workplace before it develops into further health issues.

Earlier this year, CarmichaelUK was rewarded the Individual Choice award by the Recruitment Industry Diversity and Inclusion (RIDI). RIDI is an organisation that is devoted to breaking down entry and progression barriers faced by millions of disabled people. Our award was inspired by Jamie, a candidate who after being away from work for a number of years began to apply for work in the construction industry again but due to his health and the employment gap in his CV, he experienced difficulties finding suitable roles.

Our Regional Manager, Penelope worked closely with Jamie to find him a role in the industry, from the initial application process to finding a suitable role in which he felt comfortable, supported and valued in.

How can you spot the signs of a struggling employee?

Behaviour Changes – This includes changes such as becoming withdrawn from social circles, indecisive and inflexible. People may also appear to be irritable or emotional about situations. In more serious cases people may resort to smoking, consuming alcohol or taking drugs.

Emotional Signs – Emotional signs can be harder to spot in some people.  You should look out for people experiencing anxiety, fear, anger, sadness or frustration in excess of normal.

Physical Signs – Have they started complaining about lack of sleep, constant headaches, nausea or indigestion? These can all be physical symptoms of someone who is currently struggling with stress.

What can employers do to help?

Mental health safety net – There are plenty of external safety nets employees can rely on for support about their mental health, such as CALM. It is important for an employer to ensure that employees know where they can go to talk and seek help.

Peer support – Just reaching out to someone you think is under stress can be a real help. Open-ended questions can allow people to feel comfortable to open up on their own terms – but remember to respect their privacy, not everyone wants to open up and that’s their choice.

Introduce routine – For many struggling with their mental health, the sense of routine at work can be the only constant in their life. Understandably, not all workplaces are able to host a set routine, but by implementing routine where possible can help reduce a struggling person’s level of stress and anxiety by adding consistency to their lifestyle.

If you’re suffering from stress, anxiety, depression or having suicidal thoughts, visit the NHS helpline support. They offer free helpline services so you can speak to someone in confidence – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.