Whether you acknowledge it or not, every one of us has mental health, and it can alter. For instance, excessive workloads, long working hours, financial problems, and uneasy relationships with colleagues may result in stress. Any of these can often cause mental health issues. The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated mental health issues as many have experienced job losses. Nearly 1 in 5 adults aged 18 or older in the United States reported any mental illness. What is shocking is that 71% of adults have reported at least one symptom of stress, such as a headache or feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
If your colleague is erratic or behaving out of the ordinary, you need to help them. It is crucial to deal with stress or mental health issues in the same way as those who take sick leave for any physical health problem. Some common challenges employees face and the ways to deal with them are discussed in this article. Following your colleagues troubled with mental issues may help you create a healthy workplace for you and your colleagues.
Encourage your colleague to talk about mental health
If your colleague is suffering from depression or other mental issues, you should encourage them to talk about their problems. Remember, it is challenging for such people to open up about their difficulties owing to the stigma attached to mental health issues. Therefore, you need to adopt a cautious approach and convince your colleague that you want to help them with their problems. You may begin by talking about their general well-being and let them know that you are ready to help in case of any need. When they agree to speak, listen to them attentively. You should always be nice to such people and handle the situation maturely.
Every person’s experience of mental health problems is different, so focus on the person and not the problem. Even if your colleague doesn’t want to speak about it, you should let them know you care and you’re there for them when the time is right. Opening up and talking about how they’re feeling can, in turn, help them feel more relaxed about discussing their problem with their manager or the HR people.
Suggest your colleague seek support
If your colleague feels their workload is becoming unmanageable, suggest discussing the matter with their manager or supervisor. They can also talk to their employer. If your colleague is not comfortable talking about his mental health with their manager, you may ask them to take up the issue with the HR department. People in the HR department are trained to deal with such situations. However, if your colleague’s relationship with their manager is good, they can trust them and discuss the problem one-to-one. Creating an inclusive environment may help, as it accepts each employee as usual amid the differences. This environment demolishes the one-size-fits-all approach and makes each employee valued irrespective of the differences. Reasonable adjustments at the workplace may also help ease your colleague’s plight, for instance, offering changes to roles and responsibilities, working hours, start or finish times, and breaks.
Avoid making assumptions about mental health
It’s common for us to jump to conclusions without going deep into a matter. Usually, we notice a pattern and then label it. Remember, you should avoid doing this in the case of mental issues. Never try to guess what symptoms a colleague may have and how those may affect their life or their ability to do their job. Even if your colleague is behaving strangely, missing deadlines, or absent from work, it may not essentially be a case of a mental issue. Maybe it’s something transitory, or possibly it’s the way they work. Instead of assuming or judging, you should let them know how you feel. And if they open up, you can understand what they’re going through.
Information regarding an individual’s mental health is confidential and sensitive. Therefore, never pass on information unnecessarily – a breach of trust could negatively impact someone’s mental health. Even employers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to any employee experiencing disability. People enduring mental health conditions, too, have legal rights. So, respect them. Also, never ask them any direct questions regarding the problems they are experiencing.
Offer professional help
If you think that the problems faced by your colleague are severe, ask them if you should want them to get in touch with professionals. Again, you can start by discussing the matter with the HR department and request them to introduce employee assistance programs to ensure safety at the workplace. These programs are organized by experts who know precisely how to deal with people suffering from mental issues. If you are keen to help your colleague, you need to educate yourself about mental health.
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