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How can we support an employee with a mental health concern?

One in five people experience a mental health condition each year, and it’s likely that includes the people you work with. The most important thing you can do for a peer is to have empathy and support if they’re going through difficult times. If you notice that a coworker is struggling with their mental health, you can support them in one of the following ways:

Talk It Out

  • Ask appropriate, open-ended questions to help your co-worker feel more comfortable sharing with you.
  • Actively listen with your complete attention to your co-worker.
  • Resist the urge to think about how you should respond next or offer advice. 
  • Recognize their feelings and express your understanding back to them. 
  • Don’t be afraid to relate on a personal level.
  • Ask them what they can do to get better.
  • Encourage them to seek support or talk to someone.
  • Be aware of your own stress, feelings, or thoughts that might be a barrier to being supportive.

Offer Support

  • Encourage the employee to use the available resources offered by the employer.
  • There are free resources on the internet. If you think they’re open to it, one simple option is an online screening as a resource. One of the quickest and easiest ways for an employee to determine whether they are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition is to take a free, anonymous, and confidential mental health screening.

Educate Yourself

If a co-worker is struggling with a mental illness and you want to identify how else to support them along with what is listed above, here are some options:

  • Educate yourself about general mental health concerns such as the symptoms for depression and anxiety here.
  • If the employee discloses a mental illness, always respect the employee's need for and right to privacy. A person with a mental illness has the same right to be treated with dignity and respect as any other person.

More Information:

How can we educate employees about stress management?


Mental Health Information

MHA's Online Mental Health Screening

Mental Health Resource Guide

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