Starting a conversation about mental health

If one of your employees was experiencing issues with their mental health would you know how to recognise the signs? One in six working-age Australians are currently experiencing mental illness, which means if you work in a place with more than 10 people, there’s a good chance at least one or two people in your team are living with a mental illness.

The best thing you can do to help employees who have, or are at risk of developing, mental illness is to start a conversation. Here’s some simple actions to get you started…

Keeping in Touch

Regular, simple, informal conversations help build a sense of belonging and connectedness which has been shown to promote wellbeing. Find the time to ask your employees about their weekend, have a chat about what you watched last night, ask how a recent holiday went, or just ask them how things are going.

Checking in regularly with our colleagues and team members also means that we are more likely to notice when things are different or their behaviour changes. It can make the person we’re talking to more open to sharing information with us, and make a ‘difficult’ conversation easier because you’ve already shown that you’re interested and care.

Start the Conversation

If you notice a change in a colleague or team member’s behaviour or performance ask yourself if it might be due to an underlying personal or mental health issue, and if you think this is a possibility, then why not have a conversation and ask how the person is going?

Keep these handy pointers in mind:

  • Choose a time and a place that suits you both – somewhere private when you both have time to talk
  • Talk about the changes you’ve noticed and ask if they want to talk about anything
  • Encourage them to talk, but accept that they might not want to right now
  • Listen and show that you’re listening – don’t jump in with a solution
  • Find out if they’re ready to look for help and if you can help them do that
  • Check in after a few days and see how they’re going

Find out more about mentally healthy workplaces and access our range of employer tools here.

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