Spotting anxiety in the workplace

Most managers are aware of mental health issues in the workplace but few have any training in how to deal with it.

Understanding how you can spot the problems and then how to best help can and does create a more positive and productive workplace.

Understanding how you can spot the problems and then how to best help can and does create a more positive and productive workplace.

  • have a conversation in a private place
  • make sure there are no interruptions
  • be focused, get the information that will help achieve the goal of supporting a member of staff
  • ask open questions, for example, “I was wondering how you are doing”
  • always allow the person time to answer
  • try to put yourself in the others person’s position and see things from their perspective
  • make arrangements for a follow-up meeting to review the situation.

Anxiety disorders

Mental health problems can affect anyone, the most common forms of mental ill health are anxiety, depression, phobic anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders.

Depending on the kind of problems an employee is having they may be given a diagnosis of a specific anxiety disorder, such as:

  • generalised anxiety disorder
    if someone has felt anxious for a long time and often feel fearful, but are not anxious about anything, in particular, they might be diagnosed with a generalised anxiety disorder
  • panic disorder
    experiencing panic disorder can mean that someone feels constantly afraid of having another panic attack and can’t identify what triggers them
  • obsessive-compulsive disorderthis may be due to anxiety which leads to someone experiencing obsessions such as unwelcome thoughts, urges or doubts that repeatedly appear in someone’s mind. Compulsions such as repetitive activities that people have to do
  • phobias
    a phobia is an intense fear of something, anxiety may be triggered by a very specific situation or object.

Please note

Some forms of mental ill health may be classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010 if they have “a substantial and long-term, adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. The Act makes it unlawful for an employer to treat a disabled person less favourably for a reason relating to their disability, without a justifiable reason. We suggest you refer to the ACAS disability discrimination web page for more information on this.