READY TO LEND A HELPING HAND?
When we think about mental health issues, we typically think of things like anxiety, depression, addiction or burnout. But what about being “stressed out”? Feeling like you’re “losing it”? Needing a drink or a toke because you “can’t take the pressure”?
All of these are important to pay attention to when it comes to assessing our emotional and mental health and wellbeing, or the wellbeing of fellow crew members and colleagues.
Deciding to talk about mental health issues, especially at work with colleagues or managers, can be daunting. We worry that we’ll be seen as weak, judged as unstable, or deemed unable to handle things.
The reality is that if we’re struggling with our mental health, no amount of hiding it will help us feel better or deal with our challenges effectively.
At some point, it’s much better to deal with a problem directly and face the fact that we need help or support.
This Winning at Mental Health module provides tips and strategies for recognizing when a colleague (or you) needs a helping hand, and how to reach out in a way that is respectful and supportive, knowing that talking about these things can be a very difficult conversation to start.
HERE ARE A FEW SIGNS THAT THINGS MAY NOT BE GOING WELL FOR YOU OR YOUR COLLEAGUE:
arriving late for work more often than not
calling in sick way too frequently
making up excuses for overreacting or becoming more defensive than the circumstance warrants
not remembering what to do or not being able to concentrate
making excessive mistakes - especially if that’s not typical job performance
turning from normally happy or easy-going to grouchy, difficult to be around, snapping at colleagues for no reason
avoiding responsibility, or refusing to take responsibility
avoiding hanging out and withdrawing from conversation
showing up at work with signs of a hangover or drug use
The Iceberg Analogy – behaviours seen, underlying causes unseen
Like an iceberg, we see signs of mental health issues but never really know what is under the surface until we ask. At Calltime Mental Health, we understand that with a helping hand we have a fighting chance to be well and mentally fit.
KNOWING WHEN AND HOW TO HELP
So, what do you do when you think someone might need a helping hand and you’re willing to offer them yours?
Before you do anything, first check in with yourself.
Is this the best time for you to have this conversation?
Are you feeling calm enough, well enough, strong enough?
If you are, great. If not, wait until you feel ready and can focus on the other person.
Be prepared for a variety of responses. They might be open to talking to you, or respond with anger or defensiveness, not ready to hear what you have to say. They might be offended and suggest you take a hike (or similar stronger words!) and mind your own business.
Whatever the response, it is important you maintain your own boundaries and respect the other person’s willingness or unwillingness to accept your support. You are simply trying to state what you’re observing, and offer support in response.
FOLLOW THESE FIVE STEPS TO LEND A HELPING HAND
Ask if your colleague is willing to chat with you. Find a quiet space that’s private for this conversation.
Focus the discussion on what you’ve noticed - changes in behaviour, appearance or attitude - and share your concern for their wellbeing.
Listen to them without judgement. This is crucial and will go a long way to inviting openness and sharing. If the conversation goes nowhere, don’t worry. Remind them that you’re there to talk and listen any time.
Ask them what they need and how you can help. Reassure them that you will respect confidentiality.
Recommend counselling support and give them their union’s EFAP or MAP number. If they seem reluctant to call on their own, suggest you make the call together.
REMEMBER, YOU’RE NOT THERE TO DIAGNOSE THE PROBLEM
It’s not on you to diagnose them or try to fix them. You are offering a helping hand to someone you’re concerned about.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Remember, your EFAP or MAP is there for you too! You can call to access support for yourself, or to help guide you as you support a colleague or peer.