Work, and the different environments that you spend your days of employment, can offer a distraction to many people from their personal lives. These distractions are sometimes welcome but can also lean towards becoming overwhelming or even the cause of mental health problems. A company can range from an individual employee, to thousands of staff accumulated in giant commercial buildings. The notion of a team or group environment may be far more applicable to some than others, but for those who find themselves working amongst others, the role that you play for those around you is far more significant than it may seem.
As is a recurring theme with the topic of mental health and well-being, signposts and indicators that someone may be feeling mentally unwell are almost non-existent. Many will ask how they are expected to tell in an attempt to offer help or advice. It may be a change in behaviour or unusual patterns forming within the work that they are carrying out, yet there may be no explicit way to tell. The key focus that the MHF acknowledges is the notion of talking. Within their website, there are a number of useful guides and resources that can give you the confidence to kick start that conversation with a colleague or a friend that you may have noticed displaying unusual habits through how they act or the things that they are or are not saying.
Below are the 8 key points that the MHF set out as a guide to follow if you feel like a colleague or friend is facing difficulties.
1. Set time aside with no distractions
2. Let them share as much or as little as they want to
3. Don't try to diagnose or second guess their feelings
4. Keep questions open ended
5. Talk about well-being
6. Listen carefully to what they tell you
7. Offer them help in seeking professional support and provide information on ways to do this
8. Know your limits
The points are described in further detail on their website, which can be accessed by clicking here.
The role that you play as a colleague or as a friend to those suffering from mental health issues is just as important upon their return to work as it is creating that first initial point of contact at a time of need. Had the individual taken time off work, their return to work hopefully shows progression and outlines their willingness and desire to return to work. It is key to aid and assist with the transition back to work to ensure the process is as stress free as possible.
Mind note that the isolation that may be felt if the employee needs to walk through a busy office space, or is exposed to a crowded area, can often be overwhelming. They suggest that if you are aware of a colleague returning to work, to make an effort to remove potentially awkward or isolated situations. This may be as simple as meeting them at the reception and walking with them to their desk or offering to eat together during a lunch break.
More information can be found on their website by clicking here.