What is a mental health condition?

01 February 2018

Right now, six in 10 employees have a mental health condition*. Mental health conditions come in many forms, and can debilitate individuals in and out of work.

As an employer, it’s important that you’re familiar with all the different types of mental health conditions, so that you can identify and support employees as best you can.

So, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of mental health disorders and some of their symptoms:

NameSymptoms
Addictioncan be anything from alcohol and gambling, to drugs and smoking. Addiction symptoms can be anything from a shift in mood and secretive behaviour, to trembling hands and bloodshot eyes.
Agoraphobiais the fear of not being able to escape a situation, or that help wouldn’t be available if things were to go wrong. A couple of examples include travelling on public transport or leaving home.
Alcohol misuseis when someone consumes excessive amounts of alcohol on a regular basis. People who misuse alcohol can often consume levels of alcohol that would seriously harm others. When sufferers try to cut down or completely stop consuming alcohol, often, they’ll experience effects like hand tremors, sweating, depression, anxiety, hallucinations and difficulty sleeping.
Alzheimer’s diseaseis the most common form of dementia, and affects around 850,000 people in the UK. Alzheimer’s impacts a number of brain functions, with memory loss the most well-known side effect.
Anorexia nervosais an eating disorder whereby affected individuals try to keep their body weight as low as possible, by restricting food intake, excessively exercising and/or forcing themselves to vomit. Symptoms include missing meals, eating very little, hair loss, dry skin, dizziness and becoming light headed – to name just a few.
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)impacts how people think, perceives, feels or relates to others. Generally, ASPD is characterised by impulsive, irresponsible and often criminal behaviour.
Anxietyis a strong sense of nervousness, worry and/or unease over anything with an uncertain outcome. Symptoms include restlessness, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, mind blanks, sleeping problems, and difficulty controlling the worry.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)encompasses a range of similar conditions – like Asperger – that affect an individual’s social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour. People who suffer from ASD often share symptoms with a number of other conditions, like Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy, dyspraxia and depression – to name just a few.
Binge eating disorderis when someone excessively eats or drinks large quantities of food in a short period of time – even when they’re not hungry. Binge eating disorder can be difficult to spot, as often the individuals binges in secret. Stress, anger, boredom, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem are just a few factors that can trigger this disorder.
Bipolar disorderused to be known as manic depression. Sufferers go through mood swings that go from one extreme to the other, i.e. depression to mania.
Bulimiais an eating disorder and mental health condition whereby individuals eat an excessive amount of food in a short period of time, and then are either deliberately sick, use laxatives or do excessive exercise – or a combination of all three, in a bid to prevent weight gain. Physical effects of bulimia include: dry skin; hair loss; dental problems; lethargy; brittle fingernails; swollen glands; and bowel problems.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)is a type of dementia that’s associated with repeated blows to the head and reoccurring episodes of concussion. Symptoms include short term memory loss, mood swings, confusion, disorientation and difficulty thinking.
Depressionis when an individual feels persistently sad for weeks or months at a time. Psychological symptoms include feeling sad, hopeless, helpless, tearful, irritable and guilt-ridden. Physical symptoms could be anything from lack of energy and constipation, to disturbed sleep and slowed speech. And social symptoms include not doing well at work, and avoiding friends, hobbies and interests.
Dissociative disordersencompass a number of conditions that can cause physical and psychological problems. Common symptoms of dissociative disorders include problems with movement, sensation, seizures and periods of memory loss.
Gender dysphoriais also known as gender identity disorder (GID). People who have gender dysphoria feel uncomfortable and/or distressed, because they feel there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. Symptoms in adults include changing physical signs of their biological sex – by getting rid of or enhancing facial hair or breasts, for example.
Hoarding disorderis when someone collects an over the top number of items, and stores them in a chaotic manner. Usually, the items amount to little or no monetary value, and cause unmanageable amounts of clutter.
Hypochondriacan also be referred to as health anxiety. People who suffer from hypochondria overly worry about their health, to the point it causes them great distress and effects their everyday life.
Insomniais when people struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the following morning. Insomnia is said to impact one in three people in the UK, and is particularly common in elderly people.
Munchausen’s syndromeis a psychological disorder, whereby sufferers pretend to be ill – sometimes to the extent that they produce symptoms of illness in themselves. Usually, the main reason behind this is to be the centre of attention and have people tend to them.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)is a fairly common condition, and causes affected individuals to have obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. OCD can heavily interfere with sufferers’ lives, causing high levels of distress.
Panic disorderis an anxiety ailment where individuals have sudden attacks of panic or fear on a regular basis, for no apparent reason – symptoms include anxiety and panic attacks.
Phobiasare a type of anxiety disorder. Phobias can be destressing, debilitating and impact day-to-day life. People who have a phobia have an incapacitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal, sometimes to the point that they’ll organise their life around avoiding it. Phobias fall into two categories: specific or simple phobias – like a fear of dogs, height, the dentist or blood, for example; and complex phobias – agoraphobia and social phobia are the two most common types.
Post-natal depressionaffects around 1 in 10 women, and is a type of depression that parents – although men less commonly – experience after having a baby. Symptoms of post-natal depression include continued sadness and low mood, lethargy, difficulty concentrating and withdrawal of contact with other people.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)is a type of anxiety disorder that strikes after stressful, frightening or distressing events. Sufferers will often re-live the event, and may also struggle with insomnia and difficulty concentrating. Generally speaking, symptoms can be broken into three brackets: re-experiencing, hyperarousal, and avoidance and emotional numbing. Other problems include depression, anxiety, self-harming and chest pains – to name just a handful.
Psychotic depressionis severe clinical depression, where affected individuals also experience hallucinations and delusional thinking. People who suffer from psychotic depression feel sad and hopeless almost all day, most days, and find every day activities – like getting out of bed – near impossible.
Psychosiscauses people to see or interpret things differently to those around them. The two most common symptoms of psychosis are hallucinations and delusions.
Schizophreniacauses sufferers difficulty when differentiating between their own thoughts and ideas from reality. The most common symptoms of schizophrenia are hallucinations, delusions, muddled thoughts and changes in behaviour.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)is a type of seasonal depression. More commonly, symptoms tend to begin in the autumn, worsen during the winter months, and improve over spring and summer.
Self-harmis a condition whereby sufferers intentionally damage or injure their body. More often than not, people who self-harm do so to express overwhelming emotional distress. Self-harm comes in different forms, including but not limited to: cutting or burning of the skin; punching or hitting themselves; alcohol or drug misuse; starvation; or poisoning through toxic chemicals or tablets.
Social anxiety disorderis also known as social phobia, and is a severe fear of social situations. Social anxiety disorder usually begins during teenage years and for some gets better with age, however, for many the symptoms don’t fade by themselves. Symptoms include: difficulty doing things while people are watching; fear of criticism and eye contact; avoidance or worry of social activities; and dreading everyday activities – like starting conversations and meeting strangers.
Stresscan be triggered by any number of things. People who suffer from stress may feel emotionally overwhelmed, irritable, anxious, fearful or lack in self-esteem. Mentally, they may have racing thoughts, constantly worry, and have difficulty concentrating and making decisions. Physical symptoms include headaches, muscle tension or pain, dizziness, sleep problems, lethargy, or eating too much or little.

Where to go for help

If you’re concerned about your own or your employees’ mental health and are in need of help and advice, there are a number of options available to you. For example:

  • Occupational health therapists;
  • Remploy – a free, government scheme that helps people in work who suffer from mental wellbeing issues;
  • Visit your GP, or write to the employee’s GP – if you have their permission to do so; or
  • Relevant charities.

For advice on how to deal with HR issues that arise when managing employees, get in touch with our HR & Employment Law experts on 0345 844 1111 or hello@citation.co.uk.

If you’re a client, remember, we’re available around the clock with our 24/7 advice line on either 0345 844 4848 or enquiries@citation.co.uk.

*3gem questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 working adults aged 18 and over between 28th November and 1st December 2017.

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