Just like physical illnesses, there are so many varied and complex mental disorders that are far too numerous to discuss specific illnesses and their symptoms. No two people who suffer from the same mental illness will have exactly the same symptoms, just like two people who suffer from a physical illness such as osteoarthritis. Everyone is unique and no two people or illnesses are identical.
The stigma of mental illnesses is rapidly being removed and we are openly encouraged by society to seek help and not to be afraid to talk honestly about how we feel, which is most welcome considering that 1 in 4 of us will suffer from mental illness in our lifetime.
Many mental illnesses are mild and short term and can be treated with medication, certain therapies and the involvement of appropriate professionals. Some are more complex and may be lifetime conditions, incorporating careful management and monitoring.
This short guide is what to do if you are worried about a colleague and there are several things that you can do if you are concerned.
Outline your concerns in a private and confidential chat with your own manager or H.R. manager. It may be that they are already aware of your worries or they may thank you for bringing it to their attention because nowadays the workplace can offer many helpful resources for positive mental wellbeing for individuals or groups.
Be friendly and let your colleague know that you are there if they need to talk or confide in you. Let them approach you in their own time as people need to feel comfortable in trusting another person. It is wise not to let other colleagues hear your conversations as this will enable trust to be built up more rapidly and never repeat anything that your colleague tells you unless you are concerned for their own safety or of another person, then again inform your managers or someone of authority immediately.
Be kind, understanding and helpful. This is something we hear a lot about at the moment but being kind and genuine is something we should all strive for. We never forget a truly kind and authentic person and the kindness that they showed at the time, so aim to be that person.
Be non judgemental and always be accepting. We are all different in our looks and personalities so our minds and behaviours are also unique ~ this should be embraced. Often by helping others, we ultimately help ourselves in the process.
This all sends a clear message to other colleagues and management that being open and supportive of one another will promote and reinforce an encouraging, positive and productive atmosphere within the workplace.
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