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.
- 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.
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.