Supporting Colleagues’ Mental Wellbeing  Recognising The Signs And Providing Support

Supporting colleagues’ mental wellbeing: recognising the signs and providing support

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Supporting colleagues’ mental wellbeing: recognising the signs and providing support

  • Publish Date: Posted 9 days ago
  • Author: Kat Wilson

Mental health is an essential aspect of overall wellbeing that affects all aspects of our lives, including work. It is essential to recognise that mental health struggles can occur in any workplace and that supporting employees' mental health is crucial. Employers, managers, and colleagues alike have a responsibility to create supportive and understanding work environments, and being aware of the signs of mental health struggles and knowing how to offer support can make a significant difference to someone in a challenging situation.

Spotting the signs

The signs of mental health struggles can vary widely and may be different for each individual. However, some common changes or behaviours can signal mental health struggles. Here are some of the signs you can look out for:

Changes in behaviours:

Any noticeable changes in behaviours such as increased or decreased productivity, missed deadlines, poor attention to detail, or a reduction in work quality could indicate mental health struggles.

Changes in attendance or punctuality:

Excessive absenteeism, tardiness, or leaving work early regularly can be a sign of a mental health issue. This could indicate a lack of motivation, low energy levels, or issues with anxiety.

Withdrawal from coworkers:

Employees who experience mental health struggles may become withdrawn and isolate themselves from their colleagues. This can manifest as reluctance to socialise, attend team events, or collaborate on projects.

Changes in Mood:

Employees who are struggling with their mental health might experience heightened emotional reactions or respond differently from their regular behaviour. They could become easily angered, irritable, moody, or frequently appear anxious.

It's important to reinforce that these signs can be present in individuals experiencing mental health struggles, but it's crucial not to make assumptions or stereotypes about a person based on these signs. Instead, it’s essential to approach the conversation with compassion, empathy, and respect.

Raising awareness:

It's also worth noting that an individual might not display any outward signs of mental health struggles. Therefore, it's important to create an open work environment that encourages employees to be vocal about their mental health struggles and make the most of resources within the organisation when facing any challenges – for example, here at NRL I am one member of a team of Mental Health First Aiders who colleagues can approach if they need someone to open up to about their mental health challenges. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Select a private and comfortable setting:

Find a quiet and private space where you can have an uninterrupted conversation, creating a safe and confidential environment for open dialogue. Listening attentively and without judgment is crucial, and you should allow your colleague to express their feelings and concerns openly. You can use open-ended questions to prompt your colleague to provide more detailed responses, allowing them to express themselves more freely – like "How have you been feeling lately?" or "What has been on your mind recently?"

Respect boundaries and autonomy:

Each person's journey with mental health is unique, so don’t push them to share more than they are willing. Instead, give them the space to share as much or as little as they feel comfortable with. Ask how you can assist and what kind of support they would like from you, and ensure that you respect your colleague's privacy by keeping any personal information they share confidential unless is it critical to their safety.

Foster a supportive work environment:

Advocate for a culture of openness, understanding, and support within your workplace. Encourage conversations around mental health, educate colleagues on mental health awareness, and promote the use of available resources. By openly discussing and taking care of your own mental health, you create space for others to do the same.

Follow up and stay in touch:

Reaching out to your colleague after your initial conversation shows that you genuinely care and are there for support. Check-in periodically and let them know that you are available to talk or provide assistance whenever they may need it.

Useful resources

Make sure to familiarise yourself with the resources available in your workplace that can provide help and make sure that colleagues are regularly reminded of these. There are plenty of mental health helplines and counselling services people can take advantage of like Mind, Refuge, Samaritans and many others, and you should also offer to assist in finding other relevant resources if needed. We’re proud to work closely with the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity which provides excellent physical, mental and emotional support resources to individuals working in the construction industry and their families and frequently encourage people to utilise their excellent services as well.

Supporting colleagues experiencing mental health struggles is an issue that cannot be overlooked, especially with the increasing stress and pressures of the modern workplace. Remember that everyone's journey with mental health is unique, and the role of a colleague is to provide support and encourage professional help rather than attempting to diagnose or treat mental health conditions. By approaching colleagues with empathy and understanding, you can contribute to creating a supportive and caring work environment that prioritises mental wellbeing.

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