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How to spot mental illness

9th December 2008

Siobhan Jones highlights 10 signs to look out for that could indicate when a colleague is suffering from mental health issues.

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Symptoms of mental ill health lead to the loss of 32 million work days a year in the UK, costing employers some £4 billion.

Issues such a little work variety, low pay, poor working conditions and fear of unemployment can lead to stress, which then hits the company’s finances and can demotivate a workforce.

While the employer has a responsibility to provide a mentally safe workplace, workers often do not know who to turn to at work if they have a problem.

While managers should be there to help and there is a degree of responsibility on the employee to seek support, colleagues also have an important role to play in recognising symptoms of mental ill health in a fellow worker.

Ten possible signs to look out for that may suggest mental ill-health: continuous lateness or unexplained days off; personality changes; inability to cope with workload, missing deadlines and forgetfulness; prolonged low mood or depression; extreme emotional highs and lows; dramatic changes in eating habits or alcohol consumption; anxieties and tiredness; unusual anger, hostility or violence; withdrawal from social contact; and appearing numb or emotionless.

To help, the Care Services Partnership offers training in Mental Health First Aid to give managers and employers the confidence to recognise symptoms in their colleagues, provide on-the-spot comfort and offer advice on where to seek professional help.

Unfortunately, only 10% of companies have an official policy on mental health at present.

 

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