The main mental health problems in the workplace

Mental health disorders are among the most serious health problems. They can negatively affect performance at work and impair daily functioning

Poor mental health in the workplace also results in lower productivity and commitment, poor communication with colleagues, and even affects the physical capacity of workers.

Mental health in the workplace

Mental illness is a global epidemic covering many health conditions.

It is no surprise that many workplaces have mental health problems in some of their members.

Most workers are struggling with mental illness due to work stress, hectic schedules, poor communication and management, unclear tasks and inadequate health and safety practices.

If left untreated, these stressors can lead to high absenteeism, poor communication, low productivity and morale, and high staff turnover.

5 common mental illnesses in the workplace

Stress and job uncertainty can lead to poor mental health.

Here are the most common mental illnesses in the workplace.


Depression is among the biggest health problems in the workplace.

It is currently the leading cause of non-fatal disability, resulting in lost hours of working days.

If left untreated, it can be as costly as heart disease, cardiac arrest and other serious health emergencies.

Depression can adversely affect several areas of a worker’s performance.

These include concentration and critical thinking, time management, social interaction and communication.


Symptoms of anxiety and treatment tend to overlap.

Low morale, sudden mood changes, lack of concentration and many other symptoms are prevalent in depressive and anxious patients.

Anxiety disorders in the workplace are a growing problem for companies in different sectors.

Employers need to support those who experience anxiety symptoms in order to create a happier and more productive workforce.

Panic attack disorder

Panic disorder in the workplace can be challenging as it requires a different approach than other illnesses.

Many workers who have this condition tend to keep it a secret from others, especially their colleagues, clients and supervisors.

Excessive worry, phobia triggers and work-related stress can lead to panic attacks.

Prevention and treatment are the best way to control episodes.

It also helps to have a support network to relieve pressure.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) at work can include repetitive actions such as counting objects, checking things and washing hands.

This is due to the belief that unwanted obsessions will eventually go away by doing so.

OCD symptoms can create misunderstandings in the workplace between employees and supervisors.

It can also slow down the progress of tasks, giving the impression of being late or unmotivated.

Mental health first aid

Every mental illness has its own unique symptoms, and no two situations are the same.

Some may hide their symptoms, while others may behave completely well despite the ongoing signs.

It is best to express concern or assumption when observing sudden changes in a colleague’s mood and behaviour.

Offer support but don’t force the story and let them decide when to share what they are going through.

Here are mental health first aid tips to support a colleague

  • Ask how you can help them and at the same time respect their privacy and decisions.
  • Do not exclude them. Continue to do the usual daily activities with them.
  • Depending on the level of the relationship, keep in touch if they ever decide to take a break from work.
  • When they return, be welcoming and make sure you show them appreciation. Avoid adding unnecessary comments as they may make them feel worse.
  • Be an advocate for a healthy working environment. Suggest low-cost or no-cost wellness strategies to improve everyone’s mental wellbeing.
  • Take extra steps to ensure employees feel care and support by offering the support they need. Implementing mental health first aid training can be a good step to take.

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