How to Look out for the Mental Health of your Team


Not enough attention is being paid to mental health nowadays. Everyone understands the medical dangers of the pandemic. Even the financial crisis is obvious. But what about mental health? What about how this is affecting people’s emotions? Their sadness, anxiety, fear, and so much more? Not many people are talking about that and it’s time. 

Nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. A federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress registered a more than 1,000 percent increase in April compared with the same time last year.

Here are some things to look out for to ensure the mental health of your team and help achieve maximum results. 

Look out for someone secluding themselves.  

Even if someone does not have social anxiety, something that is significantly more common than you might think, as soon as depression hits, that person can write the book on social anxiety. When a person is suffering from mental health, the last thing they want to do is make small talk and socialize. So if you have a team member that is usually talkative and social but is now sitting alone and not being him or herself, perhaps see that as a red flag and check to see if everything is ok. 

See beyond the mask and recognize sadness. 

Honestly, jokes aside, the whole mask thing makes it very difficult to read someone’s emotions properly but it doesn’t make it impossible. There are two reasons for that. The eyes. You can see a person through their eyes. Pay attention and try to recognize sadness. A nice word can go a very long way. You have no idea. It’s worth mentioning that a nice word doesn’t mean you need to actually go over and say something if you think that would be uncomfortable. A quick text message might do the job. All you need to write is “I noticed you’re not yourself lately. What’s wrong?” Or something similar. 

When things seem to be big, something might be wrong. 

If a team member is finding it hard to do things that would otherwise be trivial, something is up. I’m not saying it’s necessarily depression but that sure is a sign of it. When a person is depressed, things that are otherwise super easy to do become a massive challenge. Look out for that end offer some support. 

Set up regular one on one talks. 

Don’t single anyone out but make it a company-wide policy, especially during challenging times like a pandemic, to sit with your team, one on one, ask if everything is ok, if there is anything you can do, and if there is something on their mind. You’d be surprising how eager that person might be to spill it and acquire a support system. 

Is a team member being quieter than usual? A simple question of how they’re doing might help. 

This is much like the first point. Just like depression might cause social anxiety, it also makes talking, even small talk, seen really big. Now just because someone is quiet doesn’t mean they’re depressed but it’s worth checking in and see what’s up. Again, a text message or even an email might do the job. It might even better in some cases than face to face. Try asking open questions if possible as opposed to yes or no questions. While it might be more difficult for them to answer, it might help them open up. 

Mental health issues are becoming increasingly important and prevalent in today’s day and age. It’s time you, as a manager, started to learn about the topic and figure out the best techniques to handle mental health issues in the workplace. Everyone will gain.  Sometimes all you need is a nice word, a quick text, or maybe just a casual fist bump. 

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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