Supporting Employees Who Experience Mental Breakdown

January 31, 20204:45 pm1420 views
Supporting Employees Who Experience Mental Breakdown
Supporting Employees Who Experience Mental Breakdown

Tony’s wife passed away from a virus infection when she was 4-month pregnant. After a few days of mourning, Tony shows up at work as he needs to make ends meet for his 5 years old son. A day after his return, however, Tony’s manager sees a decline in his job performance which continues for the following days and weeks. Upon observing this hampering work quality, Tony’s manager comes to the conclusion that Tony was going through a mental breakdown. 

What is a mental breakdown? 

Mental breakdown, also known as nervous breakdown is a term to describe an acute, temporary, short phase of a disorder with features of depression or anxiety. Mental breakdown can happen to those who have a problem with an intimate relationship, such as a divorce, separation, or bereaved. Dealing with workplace stress or financial problems also contribute to nervous breakdowns.  

See also: Coronavirus Outbreak: How to Survive the Pandemic at Work

What happens to employees with a mental breakdown? 

Each individual will experience different effects of nervous breakdown depending on the cause and how the individual perceives the cause. However, the obvious impact is that the person will not be able to function normally both in their personal and professional life, said Dr Daniel Hall-Flavin. Employees who undergo nervous breakdown might often call in sick from work for days or longer, avoid social meetings and miss appointments, or have trouble following healthy patterns such as eating, sleeping, and keeping hygiene. 

Supporting employees with a mental breakdown 

Going through mental breakdown is definitely bad for both employees and employer, therefore, leaders need to support employees and make sure they do not experience a mental breakdown. The least you can do is giving positive encouragement and support. If you want to do more, you can try the following tips. 

1. Understand who and why they experience a nervous breakdown

Different employees might give a different sign when they encounter a breakdown. But here are the most common signs, as told by Dr Hall-Flavin: 

  • Changes in behaviour or mood
  • Change in how they interact with colleagues 
  • Changes in their work output, motivation levels, and focus
  • Struggling to make a decision or find a solution to a problem
  • Appearing tired, anxious, or withdrawn and losing interest in activities and tasks they previously enjoyed
  • Changes in eating habits, appetite, increased smoking or drinking 
2. Evaluate your culture 

Too often employees are scared to tell their manager about being in a mental breakdown condition due to the fear of losing or risking their job. A poll of 2,009 employees and managers revealed that 67 percent of respondents admitted not telling their employers about their mental ill-health because they fear it would harm their career, they think employers could not help, and they are too embarrassed about the situation. This silence, however, will sooner or later break apart the culture within the workplace, leading to more disengaged employees. 

Therefore, organisations need to send a clear signal to staff that their mental conditions matter and employees being open about it will lead to support, not discrimination. Sending a clue that there is a professional who will help them might change employees mind to open up about their serious mental condition.

3. Provide therapy with professional 

Following the second statement, employers can invest in employees’ mental health by inviting professionals to help them. According to Dr Hall-Flavin, professionals could help with talk therapy and other cognitive behaviour therapies which can decrease the negative symptoms of mental breakdown. Alternatively, employers can encourage practising treatments such as acupuncture, massage therapy, or yoga. Practising mindfulness therapy is the best in helping employees who experience serious stress, depression, and nervous breakdown. 

Read also: How Tech in the Workplace Could Worsen Employee’s Mental Health (And What You Can Do About It)