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How to Recognize if Your Colleague is Struggling

We spend one-third of our adult lives at work, and the extra stressors and challenges that often come with a job can negatively impact mental health. Left unchecked, they can even lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.

Recognizing when a colleague or employee is struggling can be vital to making sure they get the support they need in a timely manner. It’s also great for productivity — employees who feel respected and supported are more likely to thrive in their roles.

Use these tips from the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) curriculum to recognize if your colleague is struggling:

  1. Notice changes in behavior. Behaviors like irritability, fatigue and absenteeism can be signs that a colleague is facing a challenge. Changes in behavior might indicate that they are going through a tough time or that they may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge.
  2. Have a conversation. If you notice that your coworker’s behavior change has changed, you can start the conversation with phrases like “How are you feeling?” “Are you doing OK?” “Can we talk about what’s going on?” and “How are things going today?” These questions open the door for you to support your colleague in the best way possible and offer resources when appropriate.
  3. Listen effectively. When communicating with a colleague, it’s important to be an active listener and acknowledge the information they share with you.

Mental Health First Aid at Work teaches people the skills necessary to #BeTheDifference for colleagues in stressful times.

We are more than our job titles. Learn more about Mental Health First Aid at Work and how we can be better employees and coworkers by supporting, encouraging and empowering each other.