Mental Health Awareness Week starts on Monday 13th May and it is the perfect time to reflect on the importance of mental wellbeing in the workplace. Employers and employees can both help ensure that anyone who might be suffering from mental health issues can seek the help they need. Being able to spot when your colleague could be showing signs of mental health issues like anxiety and depression could be the first step in supporting them to find help. Here are some key indicators to look out for and some easy, actionable steps for the whole workforce to be aware of to help create a supportive workplace culture.

Signs of anxiety and depression can involve seeing changes to your coworkers’ usual behaviour.  This might include increased irritability, mood swings, withdrawal from social interactions, or sudden bursts of anger. Team leaders and managers should pay attention to changes in work performance such as missed deadlines, increased absenteeism, or difficulty concentrating on tasks, as these can also be indicators of mental health struggles.

Physical symptoms can also provide clues. Be mindful of signs such as fatigue, changes in appetite or weight, insomnia, headaches, or muscle tension, which are commonly associated with anxiety and depression. Emotional responses like frequent expressions of hopelessness, pessimism, excessive worrying, or a sense of overwhelm can also indicate that someone is struggling with their mental health.

Communication patterns can also change when someone is dealing with anxiety or depression. They may avoid conversations, be reluctant to participate in team activities or express feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness. These shifts in behaviour and communication can serve as red flags that prompt you to offer support directly or speak to someone else who might be able to help.

It’s important to initiate an open dialogue in a private setting. Express genuine concern for their well-being and offer a safe space for them to share their feelings without judgment. Practice active listening by giving your full attention, acknowledging their emotions and avoid interrupting or dismissing their experiences. Sometimes just talking and having someone listen will make a huge difference to the person who might be struggling.

If you think it’s appropriate, encourage your colleague to seek professional help from mental health professionals or if your company has access, to an Employee Assistance Program (EAPs).

What Can Employers Do?

Firstly, there’s the challenge of recognising and identifying mental health issues among employees as unlike physical ailments, mental health conditions may not always be visible and addressing mental health requires a delicate balance between supporting employees and respecting their privacy.

Also, despite significant progress in raising awareness in recent years, stigmas and misconceptions can mean people suffering are reluctant to disclose their mental health struggles.

Despite these challenges, employers can implement strategies to promote mental health and support employees effectively. Providing comprehensive training to managers and staff on mental health awareness will encourage open conversations and foster a culture of understanding and empathy within the workplace. A culture of openness and support will help to make employees feel comfortable discussing mental health issues without fear of judgment or reprisal.

Partnering with mental health professionals or Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to provide confidential counselling and support services is another valuable initiative. Ensuring that employees are aware of these resources and know how to access them can make a real difference to their well-being.

Recognising and encouraging a healthy work-life balance, promoting regular breaks, encouraging the use of annual leave, and discouraging overtime work as well as offering flexible work options such as remote work, flexible hours, or compressed workweeks can significantly benefit employees’ mental health needs.

Getting More Support with Mental Health

‘Movement: Moving more for our mental health’ is the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 and there are some great initiatives around raising awareness.

Mental Health Foundation

This guide from the Mental Health Foundation will give you some ideas to get started as well as tips on how to get the best mental health benefits from the movement you’re doing.


Shout and The Harry Kane Foundation are asking you to take on an exercise challenge to raise awareness of the benefits of movement on mental health. Download the info here.

If you need more support then these mental health based organisations and charities provide a wealth of free resources and on had to speak to you at anytime.

Mind UK


If you think wellbeing training for you and you employees could help create a supportive workplace culture around mental health, get in touch so we can connect you with a local provider.