I was looking through my facebook posts the other day expecting to see a lot of junk and rubbish, as usual, but then I saw a story that made me think about our employees and whether we are looking after them the way we should, here is that story:
A man became aggressive in the subway car
He began to swear, shout and walk up and down
The other passengers were scared and tried to keep as far away from him as possible
Then an old lady firmly took hold of his hand and held on to it until he calmed down
He quietly stayed on the floor with tears in his eyes
They sat like this until they came to his stop
Then he got up, said ‘thank you ma’am, and quietly walked away
People asked the old lady why she had done it
I’m the mother of two sons about his age; I know how life can weigh down on them and that all they need at these moments is to not feel that they’re alone.
It’s amazing to think that sometimes one little gesture can mean so much
The statistics on mental health within the workplace is frightening:
1 in 5 employees are likely to be experiencing a mental health condition
Untreated depression results in over 6 million working days lost each year in Australia
The annual cost of mental illness in Australia has been estimated at $20 billion
An individual's ability to relate with their family, friends, work-mates and the broader community is affected by their mental health.
People suffering from a mental disorder can experience significant distress and disability.
As business owners and managers we all have a responsibility to help and support our employees, but most of us would say ‘I wouldn’t know how’ but you shouldn’t worry if you don’t quite know what to say. Just by being supportive and listening, you’re helping to make a difference. As a company we have been touched by the loss of a valued and treasured friend and employee to a mental health issue and the loss touched and affected our whole company.
Whether you’re a manager concerned about someone in your team or speaking to another colleague, Beyond Blue has published the following tips to help you have the conversation with your employee.
HOW TO START
There's no right way of expressing things – the main thing is to be thoughtful and motivated by genuine concern.
You don’t need to have all the answers – it’s about the conversation and the support you offer by talking.
Say what feels comfortable for you.
If what you say doesn’t sound quite right, stop and try again. It doesn’t have to be the end of the conversation.
Remember that this is their story, so don’t try to guess how it plays out. Instead, listen and ask questions.
Be aware of your body language. To show you’re listening, try to maintain eye contact and sit in a relaxed position.
Repeat back your understanding of what they've said and make sure it's accurate.
Think about the best way to respond. You can’t fix things, but you can help them along the way. You might:
decide that today you're just there to listen and offer support
talk about it again another time
keep checking in with them
reassure them that you'll respect their privacy
think about what they need now and ask what you can do to help.
Approaching a colleague you think might be struggling can seem daunting. This interactive resource provides tips and pointers on having the conversation, what you could ask and providing support.
R U OK?
Sometimes a simple "Are you OK?" can make all the difference. The Beyond Blue website www.beyondblue.org.au can help you start a conversation with someone you're concerned about.
If you're concerned about someone, approach them and start a conversation. Try to understand their situation and encourage them to seek support.
Helping the person find further information and support services can also be really useful, as this step can seem overwhelming for someone with anxiety or depression.
Give Beyond Blue a call on 1300 224 636 any time of the day or night, their available 24 hours / 7 days a week allowing you to talk with a trained mental health professional.
They’ll be there to listen, provide information and advice, and point you in the right direction.