Top Tips For Supporting Someone on Your Team with Mental Ill Health

Did you know that mental health problems affect one in four people? When people experience a mental health condition, they may feel isolated, ashamed and worthless. They may feel that they have no one to talk to and no one to turn to. Mental health is something that we all have and, just like physical fitness, it can be good or poor. So why is it such a taboo to talk about it?

Mental health conditions are something that can affect anyone at any time. Being able to talk to people about mental health can make a significant different.

Top Tips To Support Others in the Workplace

It can be daunting when someone is returning to work after an absence because of mental ill health. They might feel unsure of how people will treat them or they may be nervous about returning to work. As their colleague, you can play a part in welcoming them back.

1.    Check in
Keep a kind eye on them and see how they are doing throughout the day. Just a friendly ‘hello’ at lunch time or a ‘how are you getting on?’ during the day can give them the opportunity to ask for help if they need it or reassure them that they aren’t alone.

2.    Listen and don’t judge
They might want to talk about how they are feeling or they might share their experience with you. That’s ok and letting them talk can be all the outlet they need. Active non-judgemental listening is really important so give them time to speak without jumping in, stop what you are doing so they know they have your full attention and ask questions to prompt them if needed.

3.    Treat them in the same way
Coming back to work might be a way for them to experience some normality so being the same friendly colleague is just what they need. There is no need to be wary or fearful of someone because of their mental ill health. They are still the same person.

4.    Ask twice
It’s easy to just reply ‘I’m fine, thanks’ when we are asked how we are and often people will automatically say this even if they aren’t feeling 100%. Asking twice can give the person the opportunity to be honest about how they feeling.

5.    Don’t forget little gestures can have a big impact.
Making them a cup of tea; carrying something for them; asking them to join you for lunch; these small actions can make such a big difference to someone who might be feeling a little vulnerable and overwhelmed. Don’t underestimate the difference you can make to someone by including them and showing that you’ve thought of them.

A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

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A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

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When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

30.03.2020

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

Weather The Storm

Living in such an uncertain time can have a great impact on your life and of those around you. As well as experiencing anxiety and low mood, symptoms you might also experience include physical effects such as pain, appetite change and sleep problems. The global situation isn’t just a storm in a teacup so how can you look after yourself come rain or shine? Read our tips to help you weather the storm:

Don’t Forget Your Umbrella!

There are some things you just can’t change: if it rains, there is nothing you can do. But you can make a difference to how you cope. You can take an umbrella out with you. You can button up your rain coat. You can pull on your wellies. You don’t have to face the stormy weather without waterproofs, just like you don’t have to cope with this situation without support. This might be in the form of talking to a friend or family member; a peer support group; or advice from organisations available to support you with your wellbeing and mental health. Building your support network in what ever combination works for you as an individual can give you the shelter you need from the storm and make a vital difference.

Shower Yourself with Self-Care

If you can feel a gathering storm, take refuge in looking after yourself. Completing an activity you enjoy, catching up on sleep or just shutting the curtains and having a PJ day can be just what you need to brighten your day.  Being able to spot your own signs and symptoms can help to put self-care in place in the early stages. Self-care should be part of your routine: even the sunshine has a little rest day now and then so taking time out for yourself can play a part in improving the forecast and your mood. Sometimes you need to take a rain check and focus on yourself.

Throw Caution to the Wind

Changing your routine or trying something new can be a benefit to your mind and body. Learning a new skill, achieving a challenge or re-engaging with an existing hobby can improve self-esteem, increase wellbeing and give access to new learning and friends too! Any activity that promotes the release of endorphins or ‘happy hormones’ can be a real benefit to your mental health because it stimulates your mind and body as well as encouraging mental development and growth.

Sunshine on a Rainy Day

It can be easy to fall into a pattern of thinking that is quite negative. Instead of asking yourself ‘Why does it always rain on me?’, try to think more positively about the circumstances you are in. Although coping with the new and difficult situation we face can be challenging, research shows that gratitude is powerfully and reliably linked with greater happiness. Thinking about the things that you are grateful for nurtures positive emotions, helps you to recognise good experiences and supports in fostering strong relationships with those around you.

A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

30.03.2020

A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

30.03.2020

When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

30.03.2020

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

Let’s Put the ‘Men’ in ‘Mental Health’

One in four people experience a mental health condition every year, yet talking about mental health carries a greater stigma than talking about health issues. The facts speak for themselves: 1 in 8 men suffer from a common mental health condition. Suicide is the biggest killer in men under 45. In the UK, men are three times as likely to take their own lives than women and it has consistently accounted for approximately three-quarters of all suicides in the UK since the mid-90s.


Seeking or accepting help for a mental health condition can be a real challenge. Admitting that they need help can seem like a sign of weakness to some men and this can mean that they feel unable to ask for help. This is perpetuated by sexist phrases, such as ‘Man up’ or being told to ‘Be a man’. Phrases like this suggest that showing emotions such as sadness or sharing their feelings is unacceptable for men. There is a false stereotype of a ‘real man’ where the characteristics isolate and force them to hide their true emotions. Unfortunately, it is this concealment that can lead to serious mental health problems and in the worst case scenario, suicide.

Instead of seeking support, often they turn to unhealthy ways to cope with their mental health, such as through substance abuse, anger and violence or self-medication through alcohol or drugs. This is why men are twice as likely to meet the criteria for alcohol dependence. Worryingly, alcohol can exacerbate depression and can increase impulsive behaviours, making it a risk factor for suicide.

Other risk factors include workplace pressure and the responsibility that some men may feel for their families and their ability to protect them by being the ‘breadwinner’ of the family. In addition, it can be that men may find themselves isolated because of their circumstances and unable to reach out. The director of a company; a retired, widowed man; a young apprentice: all of these people can share the same sense of loneliness and isolation, regardless of their background, class, experience or financial status. Someone who is experiencing depression or other mental health conditions may be at risk of suicide, but this is not always the case.

Suicide has a devastating ripple effect on family, friends and communities who may struggle to understand why someone has decided to take their own life. They may not have been aware of the suffering that the person who has completed suicide may have been in and this can make it incredibly hard to come to terms with.

Suicide is distressing, but it can be prevented by knowing the warning signs and being proactive in supporting with someone why may be presenting these. Some of the signs to look out for are:

  • Expressing the intent to hurt or kill themselves
  • Writing or talking about death
  • Hopelessness
  • Showing feelings of rage or anger
  • Acting in a reckless way without consideration of the consequences
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Isolating themselves from friends, family or society.
  • Trouble in sleeping
  • Saying goodbye or ‘putting affairs in order’
  • Significant changes in mood

This list is not exhaustive and someone who completes suicide may not present any of these signs at all. If someone you know or care about is presenting some or all of these signs, make sure that you talk to them directly about how they might be feeling. You could suggest visiting the GP with them to support them. If you think there is an immediate danger to the person, phone 999 and do not leave them unattended. If you yourself recognise these signs in yourself or want to access help for a mental health condition, read below for some advice about where to find advice and support.

HOW CAN YOU ASK FOR SUPPORT WITH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Ignore the old adages to ‘man up’ or to ‘grow a pair’. The strongest thing a man can do is seek help if they are struggling with their mental health. This can sometimes feel like a great obstacle. It is common to feel unsure of who to ask and what reaction will be received. It’s ok to ask for help even if you are not sure if you are experiencing a specific mental health condition. See below for some sources of support that you could access:

YOUR GP

Your GP can help identify support that is appropriate to your needs. They might refer you to other services, such as talking therapies; they might prescribe medication; or they might give you advice and information to help you.

A Family Member or Close Friend

Because they know you so well, it is likely that they will have already spotted that you might not be coping as well. Talking to someone who already knows you can relieve some of the worries about judgement. They might be able to support you with errands or responsibilities to take some of the pressure off you in the short term.

Trained Therapist

You might be referred by your doctor or in some cases, you can contact therapists directly. Therapists are trained to discuss and explore individual issues in a confidential environment. For some people, this feels less threatening than discussing their emotions with someone close to them.

Peer Support

Some communities have peer support groups for like-minded people or people who are experiencing the same condition. They meet regularly and this can be a source of additional information as well as a place to find out strategies to help you cope.

Workplace Support

Some workplaces have EAP (Employee Assistance Programmes) or support groups where you can access information support and help in a completely confidential setting.

We have a range of services to support mental health and wellbeing in your organisation. Please get in touch for more information: [email protected] or 01977 210220

A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

30.03.2020

A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

30.03.2020

When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

30.03.2020

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

Asking for Help with Your Mental Health

Depression can be something that is incredibly hard to talk about, not least for the person who is experiencing this condition. Often, the person with depression is not fully aware of their symptoms. It may have developed over a number of weeks or months, and it can be difficult at first to recognise that this is not just a bad day or that they are a bit run down. Depression affects mood, thoughts and behaviour, so if feelings of isolation, hopelessness, exhaustion and withdrawing from loved ones and friends are on-going, then it is time to talk to someone.

Some of the symptoms of depression include:

  • Continuous low mood or sadness
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling shame or guilt
  • Irritability and intolerance
  • Loss of interest in activities that have previously been enjoyed
  • Lack of motivation or interest
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Having suicidal thoughts or harming yourself

Support can be found from a number of different places, including friends and family, your GP and specialist services. Taking that first step can sometimes feel like the hardest obstacle to overcome.

Below are some tips for seeking help:

Know that depression is not a sign of weakness

Recognise that your feelings and experiences do not mean that you are not strong or that you should feel ashamed. Depression is a result of a mix of environmental and biological factors and can be experienced by anyone at any time regardless of background, experience, age or gender.

Avoid the temptation to isolate yourself

This condition can create feelings of lethargy, irritation and hopelessness. These emotions can make you want to hide away and be alone, but spending time with other people can be a real benefit to you on your road to recovery.

Talk about your feelings

This can be difficult, especially as some of your emotions might be difficult to articulate or to share with others. But having a support network is key and sharing your thoughts and feelings can mean that the people have a greater understanding of how they can help you. They may be able to give practical help with errands or responsibilities, accompany you to medical appointments, or just go for a walk or to the cinema with you. Don’t underestimate the difference that sharing with someone you trust can make – the phrase ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ is relevant here.

Seek help from a professional

Friends and family can be a great support, but there are also people who specialise in the treatment and support of someone with depression and they can help to personalise a treatment plan for you. This could be through medication, but they may also be able to direct you to talking therapies, activities to boost endorphins or support groups.

Asking for help takes courage and can be a challenge in itself, but it can also be a vital step in helping you gain control and equilibrium. Don’t suffer in silence – take a small step to make a big difference to your health and wellbeing.

A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

30.03.2020

A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

30.03.2020

When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

30.03.2020

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

Working too many hours can cause depression

A warning to all workaholics: Working too many hours overtime might greatly increase the chances of you suffering from depression. It has been reported in a number of newspapers this week that a study examining the work habits of more than 2000 UK Civil Servants discovered a credible link between hours worked and the likelihood of suffering from a major bout of depression. In fact, the study stated that working more than 11 hours a day led to a 2.5 times increase in the chance of suffering from severe depression when compared to those working a standard seven or eight hour shift.

It goes without saying the relationship between work and depression is complicated and even the mentioned study does not go so far as to suggest the link is concrete. There is enough evidence, however, to cause most of us to heed the warning. Like riding a motorcycle at high speeds will increase your chances of having an accident, pushing yourself too hard at work will increase the chances of becoming depressed . You need to have regard for you emotional wellbeing; you need to be honest with yourself and others about the way you feel, and you need to know when to slow things down before you make yourself ill.

Of course, for many of us working long hours is an everyday fact and it is important to remember that there are lots of things you can do reduce your stress levels and improve your mental wellbeing.

A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

30.03.2020

A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

30.03.2020

When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

30.03.2020

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working