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13 Signs Of An Employee Who’s Struggling Mentally

29 October 2021

Being mindful about how your employees are feeling is always a sensible move. One in every four persons suffers from a mental health problem, which means that someone who works for you is probably suffering as well. Of course, this isn’t going to be simple right now. With COVID-19 still at large, many individuals are working remotely, and key workers who are expected to report to work feel more stress and strain than ever.

With a significant proportion of the current workforce working from home, and some figures putting the figure as high as 42 percent of the entire US working population, employers must recognize the danger signs of psychological problems in their employees. Employers must respond constructively by promoting initiatives to prevent and respond to employee emotional well-being. However, in remote work situations, the issue that so many companies and managers have is identifying and “spotting” the warning indications of those employees that need it.

Mental illnesses are disorders that influence a person’s thinking, mood, feelings, and conduct. Common issues impact all aspects of life, from personal and social to workplace and business. And it might be tough to know what to do if you feel someone at work may seek support with a mental health condition. It can be much more difficult when this individual is also in your team. Here’s how to recognize mental health concerns in your employees.

Changes in Appearance

Changes in Appearance

Take note of subtle clues regarding how your employees present in video conferences. Do they appear untidy, exhausted, or cluttered? This could be a hint that things aren’t going well for them. If they begin to appear in this manner frequently, this could be an indication of depression. When they present at meetings, they often seem distracted, agitated, or even upset. If this is the case, these mild indications could indicate anxiousness.

Absenteeism or Tardiness

When an employee who usually is punctual begins to arrive late, skip meetings, or call in sick more frequently, it could indicate a mental health condition. Physical problems, extreme weariness, aches, and pains, or simply appearing “draggy” can all be symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Mood Swings and Eccentric Behavior

Even at work, psychological problems can cause changes in mood and conflicting emotions, with intense emotional ups and downs. Behaviors may appear bizarre and/or become unusual fast.

Changes in Communication Pattern

Changes in Communication Pattern

Maybe you’ve noticed some irregularities in an employee’s interactions. For example, they usually are pretty busy via communication channels in the mornings or mid-afternoon, but you start seeing lags, long waits, or inconsistencies in their communication. Probably you haven’t heard from them in a few days and haven’t received any early notification of their disappearance.

Shift to Poor Work Habits

Changes in work habits are frequently attributed to poor productivity when the underlying cause is a mental health problem. Lack of desire, trouble concentrating, or decreased productivity are not always performance management indicators; thus, it is critical to avoid making assumptions.

Low Energy and Sleep Issues

Mental health concerns, as well as the anxiety and stress they bring, are highly disruptive. However, if someone appears to be consistently tired, pay close attention in case other indicators emerge. Insomnia, for example, is prevalent with chronic depression. Changes in sleeping habits and behaviors that are drastic are an indication that something is amiss.

Panic Attacks

Panic Attacks

These are rapid and incapacitating bursts of anxiety that can render a person utterly paralyzed. A few of the symptoms are a rapidly rising heart rate, numbness and dizziness, a sense of inevitable doom, and intense chest pains.

Social Withdrawal, Especially to Colleagues

Employees who appear distanced from teammates and the company’s social culture may have a mental condition. Many persons who have mental health issues experience loneliness, isolation, and self-loathing.

Cancelations and Forgetfulness

Shifts in performance or consistency should be noted. Depression can result in cognitive alterations that affect time management, memory, and other executive functioning activities. Managers should approach this issue compassionately while considering psychological symptoms in mind.



Becoming “overproductive” may also indicate emotional or mental health concerns, notably if someone is suppressing their feelings of stress, anxiety, or grief by working too hard. With the blur between work and the home being so hazy during the pandemic, many individuals report having difficulty disconnecting from their work. As a result, this always “on” mindset can promote physical and emotional tiredness, as well as chronic burnout.


Individuals who are under a lot of stress may occasionally ‘boil over’ in an emotional outburst. While this is awful, it is usually motivated by annoyance at internal feelings of hopelessness. These do not have to be uttered; a very brusque or hostile email or instant message will suffice.

Confusion and Inability to Solve Problems

If you find your employee has difficulty concentrating, solving challenges, or is frequently confused, this could be a symptom of a mental health condition.

Changes in Character Behaviors

Changes in Character Behaviors

Heightened risk-taking, drug, and alcohol use, or personality changes suggest a developing mental health problem. Someone in pain and who doesn’t know where to turn may seek to lash out or self-medicate.

What You Can Do

Simply looking for the above symptoms is the very first step toward assisting your team. Before approaching the employee, you must first devise a strategy. Either you consult your human resources, business department, or whatever, it is critical to get expert advice before making any significant decisions. As a leader, you should have a strategy in place not only for the sake of your company but also for the good of your employees.

  • Mental health must be developed as an ordinary, valid topic for team talks, for example, by organizing activities based on the subject and utilizing mental health awareness days as a springboard for discussions year-round.
  • Observing minor warning signs and keeping in touch with the employee demonstrates concern and care. It may provide an opportunity for the employee to discuss stresses at home or with the adjustment to working remotely at COVID.
  • Supervisors must be ready to ask probing questions, such as how employees are dealing with their tasks or whether they are dealing with the lockdown and other difficulties outside of work.
  • When tackling a colleague’s mental health condition, it is essential to guarantee that there will be enough time to discuss any difficulties that may arise. Ensure that these conversations are not disrupted and that they are not overheard. It might be easier to carry the talk on an online “walk” together by leaving the room and communicating via mobile video chat. In addition to eliminating distractions, this may allow employees to communicate more openly if the issue is at home.

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  • Schedule quick breaks during the day to go for a short, brisk walk or stretch. Regular moderate aerobic activity is as beneficial as medication or psychotherapy in alleviating anxiety and depression. At the same time, meditative movement such as yoga and tai chi has been shown to relieve anxiety symptoms. You can also include equipment that encourages and promotes employees to stay active while working or during breaks by incorporating basic activities such as quickly getting up from their desk to do stretches or cycling using an under-desk bike with their standing desk. Physical activity has been shown to help boost mood, productivity, perspective, creativity, and physical benefits such as reduced back pain and better posture. You may click here to see more of these ergonomic solutions.
  • Creating end-of-day routines allow workers to “switch off” office mode and allocate time for leisure, family time, or personal pastimes.
  • Encourage employees to find time to eat a proper mid-day meal to improve healthy lifestyle patterns during the workday. According to research, foods heavy in fruits, veggies, seafood, and good fats (olive oils) and minimal in animal products and processed food have been linked to a lower incidence of depression.
  • Team members can be kept up to date with regular optimistic emails outlining business success and team accomplishments. These might assist in building a sense of connectedness and help alleviate the loneliness that some people feel when remote working.
  • Signposting an EAP and using the 24/7, 365 support and help is essential to ensuring people stay healthy, satisfied, and productive.

Final Thought

Because mental health difficulties differ from other performance-related concerns, the solution must be distinct. You must be sensitive to their issues, complications, and personal troubles. It is vital to remember that it is not their preference to feel this way and that if given the option, their mental health condition would not interfere with their ability to work. Never discriminate against anyone who has a mental disorder, and keep your talk confidential. Show your concern by inquiring whether anything is happening that is making work difficult for them. It is critical to allow your employees the room and opportunity to express themselves and speak freely.