Supporting mental health issues at work

06 September 2018

Mental health is an issue that is becoming increasingly prevalent in both our home and working lives. According to statistics published by the Mental Health Foundation, nearly half (43.4%) of UK adults believe they have had a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their life.

Mental health, whether that's short term or long term, can affect many different aspects of your life including your relationships and your career.

According to a CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work survey, 'presenteeism' (people working while ill) has more than tripled since 2010 with over 86% of respondents observing it in their organisation in the last 12 months. In the workplace, it is important that employers take steps to learn to recognise the signs of mental illness, and how to start a conversation, to be able to support their staff with better mental health issues at work. Everyone will have issues in their life that could affect their mental health, but there are some changes in behaviour that can indicate someone is suffering from mental illness and in need of extra support.

Signs of mental health issues


One symptom that can help to recognise if someone is suffering from a mental health issue is if their timekeeping changes. If someone starts being regularly late to work or to meetings this can be a sign that they are struggling. The employee might also take longer to complete tasks or miss deadlines due to brain fog or reduced interest in their work. Employees having regular time off for vague illnesses can also be an indicator.

Physical changes

If an employee begins to take less care with their appearance than they normally do this can be a sign that they are suffering too. Weight changes can also be an indicator that something is wrong.


Changes in how someone interacts with the people around them can also be a way of identifying if someone is struggling. Being less involved in conversations, taking longer to respond to emails, seeming distracted or tense, having less patience with others or becoming erratic are other potential signs.

Supporting mental health in the workplace

Once it has been identified that an employee could be suffering with their mental health it is important that organisations take steps to support their staff, not only for the employee's well-being but also for the good of the company.

Our Employment team have developed the acronym RADAR to help with supporting mental health in the workplace.

  • Recognise the signs of mental distress
  • Acknowledge
  • Discuss
  • Act
  • Review

While organisations need to take action to support their employees with their mental health to help their staff stay well, it is also important that they approach conversations the right way (planning is key) to minimise business risk. You can contact our Employment team for more advice on what to do once you have recognised the signs of mental distress.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. Gowling WLG professionals will be pleased to discuss resolutions to specific legal concerns you may have.