What are the Signs of Mental Health Issues in Employees?

In the everyday work environment, mental health issues among employees have become a growing concern for employers and organisations. It is crucial to recognise the signs of mental health problems in employees early on to provide support and create a healthier workplace. In this article, we will explore the common signs of mental health issues in employees and discuss how employers can address these concerns.

However, before we start, it is important to note that just because someone is exhibiting one or more of these behaviors it does not mean that they are necessarily suffering with poor mental health. As a business owner, leader, or manager you must approach the subject with great care. It is highly recommended that all owners, leaders, and managers are trained in mental health in the workplace.

  • Changes in Behavior

One of the most noticeable signs of mental health issues in employees is a sudden and significant change in behavior. This can include increased irritability, mood swings, or withdrawing from social interactions. Employees who were once punctual and reliable may become inconsistent or frequently call in sick without a clear physical reason. These changes can indicate underlying mental health challenges.

  • Decline in Job Performance

A decline in job performance is often an early indicator of mental health issues. Employees who once excelled at their tasks may struggle to meet deadlines, make errors, or have trouble concentrating. This decline can result from reduced motivation, difficulty in focusing, or excessive worrying about personal issues.

  • Increased Absenteeism

Frequent absenteeism can be a sign that an employee is struggling with their mental health. They may take more sick days or request time off for vague reasons. Absenteeism due to mental health issues can be intermittent, making it difficult to attribute to a specific physical illness.

  • Physical Symptoms

Mental health problems can manifest as physical symptoms. Employees may complain of headaches, digestive issues, or other physical discomforts that have no apparent medical cause. These somatic symptoms are often connected to stress, anxiety, and burnout.

  • Changes in Communication

Noticeable changes in communication patterns can also signal mental health issues. An employee who was once open and communicative may become reserved or avoid discussing personal matters. Conversely, they may start to over-share personal problems, seeking support inappropriately at work.

  • Increased Substance Abuse

Some employees may turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism for their mental health challenges. An increase in alcohol or drug use can be a clear sign of underlying problems, and it may impact job performance and relationships with coworkers.

  • Isolation

Employees experiencing mental health issues may isolate themselves from colleagues, avoiding team meetings, social gatherings, or even one-on-one interactions. This isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and exacerbate their mental health struggles.

  • Emotional Outbursts

While some employees may withdraw, others may exhibit emotional outbursts. This can include anger, crying spells, or emotional meltdowns triggered by seemingly minor issues. These outbursts are often a manifestation of underlying stress or anxiety.

  • Reduced Self-Care

Employees with mental health issues may neglect self-care routines, such as personal grooming or healthy eating habits. This decline in self-care can be a result of diminished energy or a lack of motivation to maintain their well-being.

  • Expressing Hopelessness

Listen carefully to what employees say, as they may drop hints about their mental health. Statements expressing hopelessness, helplessness, or a desire to escape from their problems can be clear indicators of emotional distress.


Recognising the signs of mental health issues in employees is a vital step in promoting a healthy and supportive work environment. Employers and organisations should prioritise employee well-being and take steps to create a workplace culture that encourages open communication and seeks to address mental health challenges effectively. By identifying and addressing these signs early, employers can help employees receive the support they need, ultimately benefiting both the individual and the organisation as a whole.

Employers and organisations are encouraged and, indeed, highly recommended to ensure that all of their leaders and managers are trained in mental health in the workplace at a sufficient level. To further support employees, they should also have a basic knowledge of mental health in the workplace, as part of their induction process.

The Priority Academy can provide these training experiences in the form of an online, pre-recorded course format. These online courses have the benefit of being able to be viewed from anywhere at any time and are a fraction of the cost of live training. The courses are fully accredited by the CPD Standards Office.

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