There are times in life where many of us could use some reassurance. We may need reassurance when making a difficult decision, facing a new challenge, or dealing with a mental health or substance use concern.
When facing a mental health or substance use challenge, reassurance is very important. It is a reminder to the person struggling that they are not alone, they can get the support they need, and resources are available to help them. It makes the person feel less afraid, upset or doubtful.
If you suspect a colleague may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge, you may need to provide them with the reassurance they need to begin a journey to recovery.
Use these tips from the MHFA at Work curriculum to provide reassurance and support to a colleague in need.
- Be respectful. Let your colleague determine if and when they want to talk. If you would like to ask them, say something such as “Would you like to talk about what’s going on? If now is not a good time, I’m here when you are ready.”
- Show that you are listening. When talking to a colleague about their experience, use positive non-verbal communication to show that you care. Pay close attention to what the person says, maintain an open body position, and show that you are interested by maintaining comfortable eye contact.
- Use positive, hopeful language. It’s important to be kind and supportive when talking to someone who is struggling. You might say things like “I’m here with you. You are not alone,” “Thank you for sharing. I admire your courage,” or “The team really cares about you.”
- Use person-first language. This can help humanize a mental health or substance use condition and reduce stigma. Avoid language such as “an alcoholic,” “a homeless person, or “a drug addict.” Instead, focus on person-first language such as “a person who has an alcohol addiction,” “a person without housing,” or “a person who uses drugs.”
- Avoid giving advice. When providing reassurance to a colleague, do not give any advice. Instead, share information and/or direct them to the appropriate resources where they can get help from a licensed professional.
- Be a caring colleague. Often, the feeling of having a friend in times of need can help someone who is struggling. Be a friend who is willing to listen and provide reassurance.
If you’re still not sure how to help someone around you who is struggling, bring MHFA at Work to your workplace. This skills-based training teaches people about common mental illnesses, how to support someone who is in need, and how to take care of your own mental health. With the right tools and information, you can #BeTheDifference for those around you.