Mental health and loneliness in the workplace

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Spotting the signs and supporting your team

It can be really difficult to spot the signs that someone who you work with may be struggling with their mental health or loneliness, especially in our new remote and hybrid working world.

We all have our own individual ‘usual’ selves at work and when we see people deviate away from their ‘usual’ selves, it may be a sign that they’re not feeling quite right.

You may spot a subtle change in that colleague, for example a change in their behaviour, a change in mood, reduced work performance or a change in their communication.

Whenever anyone around us is not their ‘usual’ self, it’s important to open up a conversation and to find out how they’re doing. The key here is asking twice about whether they are ok. This is because the question ‘how are you’ can often be used as a greeting. By asking how they are twice it gives a green light that we care for them and have time to listen.

Equally, there may be no signs at all. Because of this, it is important that we check in with the people around us regularly, so they know that we are there as an ear to listen. It can feel formal to open up these conversations remotely and so it’s ever so important that we make the time to have these informal conversations even if we are outside the office.

In summary, here are our 3 tips to ensure you can spot the signs in your colleagues:

Question ‘fine’: We’ve all done it; we say we’re fine when we’re not. To really find out, ask twice and don’t take ‘fine’ as your final answer.

Read between the lines: We don’t always say exactly how we are feeling, so often you will need to read between the lines when speaking to people about their mental health. Keep your camera on when on video calls and look out for signs that your colleague is not themselves.

Support them: All your colleague wants to hear is that you’re there for them and your feelings towards them will not change if they open up. You don’t have to try and give advice; they just need to know they are being listened to.

Give this a go; Make some new connections today

If you’re feeling a lack of social contact in your life, here are some simple ways to meet new people.

• Try to join a class or group based on your hobbies or interests. This could include online groups if you can’t attend things in person.

• If you are able to, volunteering is a good way of meeting people. Helping others can also really help improve your mental health.

• Set up or join a book club at work. Having something in common with others at the start means you won’t struggle with conversation starters.

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