Mental health is as important as physical health. Most of the time, people tend to neglect their mental health while doing their jobs. A study shows that 1 in 6.8 people experience some mental health problems in the workplace.
The workplace’s environment can have a huge impact on their employees’ mental health and simultaneously can hinder their performance at work.
It is important to create such an environment at work where the staff is comfortable to share their stress triggers, thus putting an end to the stigma on mental health.
How I Helped My Colleague With Mental Health Problems
This story is about my colleague, Katherine, who works with me at Assignment Guarantee. We’ve been great friends for the past two years. She was a person who was always full of life, cracked jokes, shared fun moments with us.
She’d always been the kind of person who takes her work with full responsibility. Hardly you could find any mistakes in her work.
But three months back, she started changing. A change you could openly observe. Though she was still jolly, most of the time, she chose to remain quiet. Slowly and gradually, she started losing interest in her work. She started delaying things, which she had never done before. Her progress rapidly dropped. She started gaining weight; her face always seemed tired and puffy.
Everybody knew something was wrong with her, but nobody asked her. Katherine has always been a good friend of mine, and I knew that something is continuously bothering her. She needs help. Thus, I decided to help her and support her with her struggles.
I Avoided Making Assumptions
The first thing that I did before approaching her was not to make any false assumptions. I didn’t try to guess what she has been suffering from or, depending upon her signs, and I didn’t try to make any definitive diagnosis about Katherine.
I gave her the benefit of the doubt, and I think any person struggling with mental health problems also wants this – to never have any false assumptions about them.
Helped Her To Speak About Her Struggles
The worst thing a person can do while suffering from depression or struggling with any mental health problem is to stay silent. When you don’t speak about your problems, you let the stigma overpower you.
A study showed, only 41 percent of the people who had a mental disorder in the past year received professional health care or other services.
So, when I first approached Katherine, I talked about general things. I reassured her that she could talk to me about everything and anything. Though she wasn’t comfortable with an opening about her problems at that time, still I assured her that I was there for her, and I do care about her.
I made sure, and I let her know that she can come to me any time she wants and share her struggles with me.
I Solely Listened
One of the helpful things you can do for someone struggling with mental health issues is to listen. Listening is always more powerful than giving advice. So when Katherine decided to open up about her mental health struggles, I made sure to listen to every bit of what she wanted to say.
She told me she has been suffering from depression and anxiety for the past three months. She couldn’t eat or sleep due to overthinking. She had lost interest in doing her favorite things, and that she struggled with work. It was affecting her performance, as well.
I listened without judging her. I listened without giving her any unsolicited advice. At that time, I think this is what she wanted the most. Someone who could hear her without passing any judgmental remarks
Respected Her Privacy
It is the responsibility of every individual to respect other person’s privacy. If someone has shared anything private with you that they do not wish to share with anyone else, we should respect that decision. In this way, we can contribute to creating safe spaces for each other.
So, when Katherine told me about her struggle with depression and anxiety, I respected her privacy and confidentiality. I chose to keep her secret with myself and never talked about it with anyone because she wanted it to be kept confidential.
Didn’t Give Up On Her
Struggling with mental health problems can be tiring at times. According to a study, 49.3 percent of people who completed their treatment for anxiety or depression recovered from their condition.
Recovering from depression is a time taking process. So, when Katherine was recovering from her depression, there were still many days when her symptoms worsened.
No matter how much you try, sometimes the pain within never goes away.
So, throughout all this time, I stayed beside her. I used to take her out for walks, and we would do lunch together whenever she experienced low mood symptoms. This helped her cope with her low moods and anxiety, and slowly and gradually, she started feeling better.
In A Nutshell
If I summarize my experience with Katherine, I would say that struggling with mental health problems is hard, but it can become easy if someone is there with you throughout your struggle. Due to this support, Katherine started feeling better. She started showing positive responses in her work, and eventually, she started showing good progress in the office.
If you like this article, check out: https://www.harnessmagazine.com/whats-the-word-for-how-it-feels-to-end-something-that-never-even-started/