Spotting Workplace Mental Health Red Flags and Mastering Well-Being Checks

In the bustling environment of today’s workplaces, mental health can often take a backseat to pressing deadlines and ambitious goals. However, as HR experts, we understand that an organisation’s most valuable asset is its people. Ensuring their mental well-being is not just a moral responsibility but also a strategic imperative. Recognising the signs of mental health issues and conducting well-being checks are crucial steps in fostering a healthy and productive work environment.

Recognising Signs of Mental Health Issues

Identifying signs of mental health issues in the workplace can be challenging. Symptoms can be subtle and vary greatly among individuals. Here are some common indicators to watch for:

  1. Changes in Behaviour: Noticeable changes in an employee’s behaviour, such as increased irritability, withdrawal from social interactions, or sudden changes in mood, can be signs of underlying mental health issues.
  2. Decreased Productivity: A significant drop in productivity, missing deadlines, or a decline in the quality of work may indicate that an employee is struggling with their mental health.
  3. Absenteeism: Frequent unexplained absences or arriving late to work regularly can be a sign that an employee is dealing with mental health challenges.
  4. Physical Symptoms: Physical signs such as fatigue, frequent headaches, or unexplained aches and pains can be manifestations of mental health issues like stress or anxiety.
  5. Changes in Eating or Sleeping Patterns: Noticeable changes in an employee’s eating habits or sleep patterns, such as eating significantly more or less than usual or appearing unusually tired, can be indicators of mental health problems.
  6. Difficulty Concentrating: Employees who seem distracted, have difficulty focusing on tasks, or make more mistakes than usual might be experiencing mental health issues.

Conducting Well-Being Checks

Regular well-being checks can help create a supportive environment where employees feel valued and understood. Here’s how to conduct effective well-being checks:

  1. Create a Safe Space: Ensure that the environment for the well-being check is private and comfortable. Employees should feel safe and assured that their conversation will remain confidential.
  2. Be Observant and Empathetic: Start the conversation with empathy and genuine concern. Mention specific observations without making assumptions. For example, “I’ve noticed that you seem a bit withdrawn lately. Is everything okay?”
  3. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage dialogue by asking open-ended questions. Instead of “Are you okay?”, try “How have you been feeling lately?” or “Is there anything you’d like to talk about?”
  4. Listen Actively: Pay close attention to what the employee says and how they say it. Show that you are listening through nodding, maintaining eye contact, and avoiding interruptions.
  5. Provide Support and Resources: Offer information about available support resources, such as employee assistance programs, counselling services, or mental health hotlines. Let them know that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  6. Follow Up: After the initial conversation, make sure to follow up. Check in periodically to see how the employee is doing and whether they have accessed any of the resources provided.
  7. Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance: Promote practices that encourage a healthy work-life balance, such as flexible working hours, regular breaks, and the importance of taking vacation time.

Building a Supportive Work Culture

Creating a culture that prioritises mental health starts from the top. Here are some strategies to build a supportive environment:

  1. Leadership Training: Train leaders and managers to recognise the signs of mental health issues and conduct well-being checks. Equip them with the skills to handle these conversations with sensitivity and care.
  2. Promote Mental Health Awareness: Organise workshops and seminars on mental health awareness. Encourage open conversations about mental health to reduce stigma.
  3. Implement Wellness Programs: Introduce wellness programs that focus on mental health, such as mindfulness sessions, stress management workshops, and physical wellness activities.
  4. Regular Check-Ins: Normalise regular check-ins where employees can discuss their mental well-being without fear of judgment or repercussions.
  5. Feedback Mechanisms: Establish anonymous feedback mechanisms where employees can share their concerns and suggestions regarding workplace mental health.


Recognising the signs of mental health issues and conducting well-being checks are integral to maintaining a healthy and productive workplace. By creating a supportive environment where employees feel safe to express their concerns, organisations can foster a culture of care and resilience. As business owners and leaders, it is our duty to champion mental health initiatives, ensuring that our workplaces are not just places of productivity but also havens of well-being. Together, we can build a brighter, healthier future for all employees.

At BespokeHR, our focus is to improve the overall performance and effectiveness of your organisation through tailored people, culture and performance solutions, leadership coaching and organisational capability development. Check out our services that could help you upscale your organisation today.