A culture that encourages open conversation plays a crucial role in people’s mental wellbeing at work. Creating an environment where people can speak openly about how they feel can help people struggling with mental health issues feel less isolated.
Ask questions and listen
Asking questions can give the person space to express how they’re feeling and what they’re going through, and it will help you to understand their experience better. Try to ask open, non-judgemental questions, like “How does that affect you?” or “What does it feel like?” Then, ensure you are actively listening to their answers, so they feel valued and understood.
Think about the time and place
Sometimes it’s easier to talk side by side than face to face. Try and find a quiet and comfortable space where you can both feel at ease. Popping out of the office for a walk, for example, could help create the right conditions for a more open conversation.
Don’t try and fix it
It can be hard to resist the urge to offer ‘quick fixes’ when someone reveals their struggles. Learning to manage or recover from a mental health problem can be a long journey, and they’ve likely already considered lots of different tools and strategies. Just talking can be powerful, so unless they’ve asked for advice directly, it might be best just to listen.
Treat them the same
When someone has a mental health problem, they’re still the same person as they were before. To support them, make sure it’s clear that anything they say is in confidence and treat them exactly as you normally do.
No matter how hard you try, some people might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through. That’s ok – the fact that you’ve tried to talk to them about it can make it easier for them to open up another time.
It starts with a conversation
The Printing Charity’s free, confidential helpline is available to support workplace mental wellbeing. The helpline offers practical advice and guidance alongside 24/7/365 emotional support for anyone in the print, paper, packaging, graphics and publishing sectors. Please get in touch with us to find out more about the service and how to provide it for your staff. We are here for the conversations people need to have, whatever those are.
If you or someone you know is struggling, it’s great to start the conversation about mental health. As well as our helpline, you can go or direct people for help such as Mind and Rethink Mental Illness to find help in your area.