REACH OUT when you notice significant changes in behaviour, mood or appearance that last MORE THAN TWO WEEKS.
Consider whether the changes you have noticed are due to a MENTAL HEALTH issue, remembering that mental health SYMPTOMS WILL DIFFER between individuals.
INTERVENE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE.
Opening up a mental health conversation with a colleague you are worried about can be vital in encouraging help-seeking and early intervention. Given that suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-44, these conversations can, in some cases, be life-saving.
Most individuals spend one-third of their adult lives at work (WHO, 1994), so managers and co-workers are in a privileged position to recognise and respond to mental health issues in the workplace. However, it is often difficult to recognise when someone is experiencing a serious mental health issue, or if they are just experiencing normal dips in emotional wellbeing or transient stress.
This edition of EAP News explores when to approach a staff member if you have concerns about their mental wellbeing.
Rule of thumb: A significant change in usual functioning that lasts for more than two weeks.
The research states that noticeable changes in a person’s behaviour, mood, thoughts, and/or appearance that last for more than two weeks may be an indication that they are dealing with a significant mental health issue (as opposed to just having a few ‘off’ days).
Some changes that you may notice/look out for in the workplace include:
- – Not enjoying or engaging in hobbies they once did
- – Taking on an excessive amount of new work
- – Not performing to their usual standard (e.g., not meeting deadlines or making mistakes)
- – Struggling to accept constructive feedback
- – Arriving late and/or taking unplanned absences
- – Reduced interaction or increased conflict with coworkers
- – Increased use of alcohol or cigarettes
- – Talking or behaving irrationally
- – More irritable or snappy
- – Appear unusually anxious/worried about things
- – Reacting more emotionally than usual or more than is warranted by the situation, including crying
- – Overwhelmed by tasks that they previously found manageable
- – Looking tired
- – Weight loss or gain
- – Seeming more fidgety or moving slower than usual
- – Talking much faster/slower than usual
NB: While the thoughts listed below are characteristic of mental ill-health, we recognise that no one can read someone else’s thoughts. All we can do is look out for signs of these thoughts, such as through conversation or behaviour observance.
- – Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- – Struggling to see a positive side
- – Thinking the worst of situations
- – Taking things personally
- – Feeling confused or
- – Having difficulty switching off
Importantly, not every presentation of mental ill-health will show these characteristic signs – rather it is best to pay attention to any changes that are out of character for that person.
Although these presentations may we