In this article we will discuss how to identify mental health issues, as well as eight ways managers can support employees’ mental health.
Identifying mental health issues at work
Fostering an open environment and encouraging people to disclose mental health worries is always beneficial but the signs that someone is struggling are often more subtle. If you notice that an employee isn’t engaging with colleagues as much as they normally would or a worker seems subdued, it could be a sign that they’re dealing with mental health issues.
Similarly, increased irritability, a rapid change between high and low moods or a deterioration in the quality of their work, can be an indicator that someone is battling mental health problems. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that project managers can support employees’ mental well-being, such as:
1. Removing barriers to communication
When you identify barriers of communication, you can begin to break them down and empower employees to voice any concerns they have regarding their health. There are typically five barriers to communication within a company setting:
- Cultural diversity
- Gender differences
- Status differences
- Physical separation
If your team has switched to remote working, for example, physical separation could make it difficult for employees to disclose mental health concerns. You can break down this barrier by having regular remote one-to-one meetings and/or hosting routine face-to-face meetings so that you can check in with your team.
2. Monitor workloads
Even the most resilient employees can struggle to cope if their workload becomes unmanageable and companies can limit the impact on staff by ensuring people aren’t expected to take on too much. Fortunately, project management planning and control means that experienced project managers are adept at preparing in advance and mapping out how a project’s activities will be distributed throughout a team or department. By using planning techniques to keep workloads manageable, you can prevent workers from succumbing to excess stress or burnout.
3. Increase adaptability
Adaptability is a highly valued trait, yet it’s often overlooked. When individuals can easily adapt to changing environments, they’re able to deal with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) without letting it have a negative impact on their well-being or their work.
However, adaptability can be learned, and employees can benefit from being shown how to be more adaptable at work. Encouraging staff to self-regulate and empowering them to make decisions goes hand-in-hand with promoting adaptability but using change control processes to respond to evolving circumstances can be advantageous too.