Supporting our colleague
We spend a lot of time with our colleagues and we may notice when they do not seem like their usual selves. If we observe that our colleague is feeling overwhelmed, we can check in with them to see how they are feeling.
Small gestures like this can make a big difference in helping them feel better.
Read on to find out how we can better support our colleagues’ mental health and well-being.
Tips on supporting our colleague
As much as we want to support our colleagues, we might not know what to do or say to support them when they are feeling overwhelmed. Here are some tips on how we can better support our colleagues:
Starting a conversation
Establish a connection
If they are comfortable, try bringing the conversation to a quiet area or arranging to chat over coffee or lunch. If they are unwilling to share, we should respect their privacy and let them know that we are available if they ever do want to chat.
Understand what’s challenging them and offer support
- Spike at regular intervals (e.g. preparing for annual reports)
- Be recurring (e.g. dealing with a difficult boss)
- Be one-off (e.g. dealing with bereavement)
- Offer practical suggestions on how to move forward (e.g. if they are stressed about their workload, we can suggest using a to-do list and prioritising tasks)
- Suggest relevant courses if the issue is about competency
- Introduce self-directed learning tools
- Recommend people they can approach for guidance
- Offer a listening ear
- Give them the space and time to express what is on their mind
- Offering comfort and reassurance can help them feel better even if we might not be able to address the problems they are facing
Strike up a friendship
Simple actions like going for lunch together or hanging out after work can strengthen a friendship and make it easier for our colleagues to share their problems.
Different mental health challenges
Like all of us, our colleagues might experience life changes that can affect their mental health and well-being. As a colleague, we can learn about some of the mental health challenges they might face so that we can better support them.
If we notice that our colleague is constantly looking tired or listless, they could be experiencing a lack of sleep or sleep difficulties.
Click here to read more about sleep health and useful tips to share with them.
When things get overwhelming, it is normal to experience intense emotions. We can help our colleagues learn how to manage their emotions before it overwhelms them.
Click here to pick up some tips on managing emotions that we can share with our colleagues.
It is normal to feel sad occasionally but if we notice our colleagues feeling down over an extended period, this could be a sign that they are suffering from depression. As colleagues, we can
about what they are going through and how to seek help.
Here are some tips on caring for colleagues with depression:
Be patient and understanding
Depression can drain a person’s energy and drive. At times, our colleagues might appear irritable, impatient, or say hurtful things but try to not take it to heart as these may be due to their
condition and not necessarily directed at us.
Here are other things to take note of when our colleagues are not acting in their usual ways:
- Empathise with them
- Know that they are trying their best
- Do not judge or criticise them
- Avoid telling them to be positive or “snap out of it”
- Refrain from blaming them or pressuring them to get well soon
Look out for warning signs of suicide
People with depression may have an increased risk of suicide . Be prepared by knowing the concerning behaviours to look out for. If our colleagues display any signs of suicide, take it seriously and consider seeking professional support.
OCD is one of the top three most common mental health conditions. If our colleagues have OCD, they might constantly have intrusive thoughts and ritualistic behaviours that cause them distress and anxiety. To
better support them, we can
about what they are going through and how to seek help.
Here are some tips on caring for colleagues with OCD:
Manage our expectations and recognise small improvements
Give our colleagues the time that they need to improve. Their progress may sometimes seem insignificant to us (e.g. a decrease rather than complete stop in over washing their hands), but it might have
taken a lot for them to accomplish.
We can encourage them to keep trying by consistently acknowledging their small accomplishments and praising them.
Avoid judging or making negative remarks
Try to remain open and refrain from making negative remarks about their behaviours. Show our support by lending a listening ear and encouraging them to share about their struggles.
Be mindful not to accommodate their obsessive thoughts and compulsions
Avoid offering assurance about their obsessive thoughts or helping them perform certain rituals as this will not be in their best interest in the long term.
Remind them that although performing these rituals may make them feel temporarily better, it will worsen their symptoms in the long run. We can also encourage our colleagues to seek professional help if it interferes with their daily lives.
It is normal to feel anxious at times, but if our colleagues’ daily lives are affected because they feel excessively anxious, this could be a sign of anxiety disorder. As colleagues, we can
about what they are going through and how to seek help to better support them in managing it.
Here are some tips on caring for colleagues with anxiety disorder:
Understand that supporting avoidance or forcing confrontation are not solutions
Avoidance is not helpful for their anxiety in the long run. Try not to help our colleagues avoid situations that they are fearful of (e.g. by taking over their task so they can avoid doing them).
However, remember to practise discretion when doing this. If they start to show extreme fear, refrain from forcing them to confront the fear as it could cause them additional distress and affect their trust in us.
Encourage them to focus on things that they can control
Help our colleagues learn to identify what they can and cannot control. Being able to divert their attention and energy towards what can be controlled will help them to improve their situation.
Refrain from asking them to stop worrying
Lend our colleagues a listening ear and validate their feelings – instead of asking them to stop worrying. Let them know that it is okay not to be okay at times. We can also guide them to refocus their attention on other activities, like taking a walk, listening to music, or going to a quiet corner where they can calm down.
Amid the hustle and bustle of daily lives, we may encounter a fair share of challenges and issues. Be it financial worries, juggling family commitments or pressure at work, these challenges can bring about
strong feelings of stress, self-doubt, uncertainty and fear. When these get too overwhelming, some might hurt or contemplate hurting themselves to seek relief.
Click here to learn more about self-harm and suicide as well as how to help our colleagues cope with it.
There may be times when someone we work with experiences losing someone or something precious to them such as a loved one, relationship, their health, or even their job. As they express their grief from this
loss, they may experience difficult and overwhelming emotions such as sadness or even despair.
To better support our colleague, we can try to be more attentive and compassionate to how they are coping or even explore ways to help them step away for a moment when needed. We can also learn more about the effects of grief and how we can support them through it. Click here to find out more about coping with grief.
As our colleague progresses through their life, they will inevitably face changes, such as getting a new job, or starting a family. While this might be an exciting time for them, it may often bring about
stress, worry or frustration, and may affect their mental and physical health.
Click here to learn useful tips on coping that we can share with them, as we help them through transitions that may occur in their lives.
Caring for our colleague while juggling other aspects of our lives can take a toll on our physical and mental well-being. Ultimately, the lack of self-care will make it more difficult for us to care for them. This is
also why we should not feel guilty about attending to our needs.
Practising and prioritising self-care will allow us to recharge and be ready to provide them with the support they need. Refer to these tips on managing stress and emotions to keep ourselves healthy.
Mental health services
For mental health services
related to employee
For mental health services related to employee well-being:
Employees can tap on counselling services such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) to speak to a professional on their work and non-work related challenges. Conversations with the service provider will be kept confidential and will not be disclosed to their organisation without consent.
Belle, Beyond the Label Helpbot
Belle, Beyond the Label helpbot, is an interactive platform for users to find mental health resources and services in a private and convenient manner. If you or anyone you know is overwhelmed with stress or anxiety, find the help you need via Belle.