1 in 4 will experience a mental health issue this year. However, despite how common these experiences are, myths and misinformation make it difficult for people to ask for help and the subject often brings feelings of shame or embarrassment. Taking care of mental health in the workplace and at home starts with one simple thing; speaking. It’s time to start talking about mental health.
Talking about mental health can seem like a minefield, you might be questioning whether you have the ability to support someone going through a tough time. Whether they are a friend or colleague, you can master the art of talking by learning to listen. Ask questions and try to really understand how they are feeling, this makes people feel acknowledged and cared about.
Once you’ve taken the first step and asked the person if they are okay, and they have said: “Yes I’m fine”. Question ‘Are they really fine?’. If you’re not sure, ask twice to help them open up. They might not be ready to talk yet, but communicating that you are there for them and ready to listen means they are more likely to ask for help when they are ready to talk.
People experiencing mental health problems want to be treated without judgment. You don’t need to become someone’s therapist to help them. A message with a silly joke or a funny video can be a spark of light in a dark time. Try keeping up contact with someone, inviting them out to do normal things can help them see a way out of the bad place they are in. Make sure they know that you care.
Talking Mental Health at Work
“Self-esteem is as important to our well-being as legs are to a table. It is essential for physical and mental health and for happiness.”
The working environment is a tricky environment for discussing personal topics, such as mental health. How can we foster an atmosphere which allows for discussion about mental health? The key is to make employees or volunteers feel valued and comfortable within the workplace.
- An open door policy means that all employees and volunteers are encouraged to speak freely with any manager at any time. Encouraging a working environment where communication is free and open has advantages to organisations from a business perspective but this can also have a much more personal benefit to all.
- You don’t need to have a solution and sometimes trying to find one can lead you to say the wrong thing. Try using acknowledgement and appreciation to tackle the conversation; “That must be really difficult for you” or “Thank you for telling me about it”.
- Be flexible to ensure you are creating a comfortable working environment for those with different needs.
- Make sure you understand mental health, take this useful quiz by Time To Change: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/mental-health-quiz
- Set up a casual activity to encourage your staff and volunteers to talk about how they are feeling. Lots of healthy conversations have been known to start with tea and biscuits.
- Most organisations have a registered provider for counselling-related service – check with your HR department or line manager.
Volunteering Local aims to inspire and support volunteering in the London Boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Hounslow, Kingston and Westminster.
If you are an organisation and are interested in recruiting volunteers with long term health conditions, such as a mental health problem, we can support you to support them.
If you would like to volunteer but are worried that your health condition may be a barrier, come and see us at a drop-in to see how we can help you find the perfect role.
Visit one of our websites to find out more.