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How to help a work colleague suffering from depression

Advice from mental health charity and steps that can help

17 May, 2018

FOR any readers who may have a colleague suffering from depression, we asked MIND for steps that can be taken to help.

The charity’s head of information, Stephen Buckley, provided the following advice:

Everyone’s mood can fluctuate day to day, so it can be hard to know whether someone is just going through a difficult period, or whether they’re experiencing something serious or long term, such as the symptoms of a mental health problem.

There may be other things which trigger a colleague’s mental health, for example, feeling stressed, relationship problems, a bereavement or money worries. You may be able to learn what a colleague’s triggers are, or spot when an episode might be starting, and encourage them to take action before it gets any worse.

•      Encourage them to talk – start by talking about general wellbeing, and let people know that they can talk to you if they need to. Remember everyone’s experience of mental health problems is different, so focus on the person, not the problem. Staying silent is one of the worst things people can do and opening up and talking about how they’re feeling can in turn help them feel more relaxed about chatting to their manager. Even if they don’t want to speak about it at that time, you’ve still let them know you care, and you’re there for them when the time is right.

•      Time to Change – the anti-stigma campaign led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, has launched a five year campaign, In Your Corner, part of this aims to encourage men to be more open and supportive of the 1 in 4 of us fighting a mental health problem in any given year. The campaign urges men to be in their mate’s corner by showing straightforward ways to be there for someone else. Visit https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/what-you-should-know/be-your-mates-corner for more information.

•      Wellness Action Plans (available for free from Mind’s website) – are a useful tool for employees and employers. Drawn up with your manager, these tailored plans can allow you to identify your individual triggers for stress and poor mental health and outline what can help prevent or alleviate symptoms of poor mental health.

•      Avoid making assumptions – don’t try to guess what symptoms a co-worker might have and how these might affect their life or their ability to do their job – many people are able to manage their condition and perform their role to a high standard.

•      Respect confidentiality – remember mental health information is confidential and sensitive. Don’t pass on information unnecessarily – not least because this breach of trust could negatively impact someone’s mental health.



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