Psychological Health at Work

by Dr Christopher C Ridgeway

The causes of mental illness

Professionals debate the causes of mental ill health. If you have observed behavioural changes, it may be helpful to bear in mind possible causes when consulting, perhaps, the company doctor who conducted the individual’s pre–employment medical and/or getting access to medical records.

Below are some simplified lists of the common possible causes of psychological distress.

Company causes include

  • Occupational stress
  • An unhealthy in-company environment, such as the presence of toxic materials
  • An in-company accident
  • An in-company trauma, such as a robbery, a car crash or the death of a work colleague.

Possible external to company causes:

  • Life events, such as divorce or bereavement
  • Heredity
  • Brain damage caused outside work, due to alcoholism, accident or an inherited problem.

The key is to ensure that you become skilled at recognising work behaviour changes (as possible indicators of underlying psychological health problems) and take care to gather and record evidence about it.