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Mental Health in the workplace – How can you help

We’ve all experienced ‘down times’ at work and in life, moments where we feel exhausted, defeated and in need of a break. Sometimes, that’s all we need – just a moment to breathe, so that tomorrow we can get right back to the grind.

But what happens when it’s more than that?

According to News24, 1 in 4 people in the workplace suffers from depression. This is a very real and scary statistic.

Sadag.org stated that mental illness in the workplace leads to decreased productivity, increased sick-related absenteeism, poor work quality, wasted materials and even compromised workplace safety. Everyone is affected by mental illness, but most importantly, the person suffering feels debilitated and that they’re not contributing to the company’s objectives. This is in itself could make matters worse.

So, how can we help?

Keeping in mind that October is Mental Health Awareness month, below are a few points in how you can help a friend, colleague or employee suffering from a mental illness.

Be kind

And understanding. Don’t ask sufferers why they’re feeling this way or tell them to snap out of it. And don’t call them crazy, whether in a gossip fashion or to their face. Be aware of the individual and what they’re possibly going through. Just because you can’t see an open wound, doesn’t mean that it not very real, very painful and very frustrating. Go ahead and ask them if they’re okay.

Educate yourself and your employees

Obviously, you’re not going to shine a spotlight on the person or people suffering. Please don’t use them as an example. From a general and educational perspective, have your staff come together and conduct an awareness workshop. Suffering from a mental illness should not have a stigma attached to it. So be that employer who embraces knowledge and education about something that people tend to shy away from. You’ll be surprised at how many people really don’t know much about depression and other debilitating mental illnesses.

News24 suggests the First aid for mental health

In the same way that we have a First Aid kit for physical injuries, we should have a First Aid kit for someone suffering from a mental illness in the workplace.

News24 suggests ALGEE:

  • Approach, assess and assist with any crisis
  • Listen non-judgementally
  • Give support and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage other supports (family, close friends)

October may almost be over but it’s never too late to educate yourself, your colleagues and peers on the reality of mental illness. Be supportive, be understanding and be that employer who encourages no judgment, empathy (or sympathy) for people suffering from a mental illness.

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