Take 10 Together: Triggers and signs of mental ill health

woman being comforted by colleague, mental ill health
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We all have mental health just as we have physical health, but it can seem more difficult to spot the signs of mental ill health. Here, Mental Health First Aid England has put together some common triggers and signs of mental ill health to look out for in the workplace.


People often undergo significant life changes without developing a mental health issue. But significant changes in someone’s work or personal life, including happy events, can prove stressful and challenging to adapt to.

Here are just some of the sorts of circumstances which might trigger mental ill health:

Personal life changes:

  • Bereavement
  • Divorce or relationship breakdown
  • Having children
  • Health scares or physical illness

Changes at work:

  • Starting a new job
  • Coping with an increased workload or a promotion
  • Poor relationships with colleagues or managers
  • Redundancy, or fear of redundancy

Signs to spot

Recognising a mental health issue is the first step in accessing the support needed to recover. Some signs of common mental health issues include:


  • Frequent headaches or stomach upsets
  • Suffering from frequent minor illnesses
  • Difficulty sleeping or constant tiredness
  • Being run down
  • Lack of care over appearance
  • Sudden weight loss or gain

Emotional and behavioral

  • Irritability, aggression or tearfulness
  • Being withdrawn, not participating in conversations or social activities
  • Increased arguments or conflict with others
  • Erratic or socially unacceptable behaviour
  • Loss of humour
  • Indecision, inability to concentrate
  • Increased consumption of caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes and/or sedatives
  • Being louder or more exuberant than usual
  • Loss of confidence
  • Difficulty remembering things

At work

Look out for these signs in the workplace that an employee may need support with their mental health:

  • Increased errors, missing deadlines or forgetting tasks
  • Taking on too much work and volunteering for every new project
  • Working too many hours – first in, last out, emailing out of hours or while on holiday
  • An employee who is normally punctual frequently arriving late
  • Increased sickness absence
  • Becoming fixated with fair treatment and quick to use grievance procedures

To find out how employers can support the wellbeing of their staff and demonstrate their commitment to World Mental Health Day, visit mhfaengland.org and download the free MHFA England Take 10 Together toolkit.  

For more guidance around how to approach and respond to a colleague who may be experiencing a mental health issue download the free Line Managers’ Resource at mhfaengland.org/workplace/line-managers-resource

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