13 Aug It’s Good to Talk:
What would you do when someone close to you seems to be struggling?
We are going through a very stressful time due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. But we are not all experiencing stress in the same way or for the same reasons. Some of the common causes of mental distress can be:
Short-term ups and downs are normal but when you start having long-term problems in one or more of these areas, the stress will mount. Given that the pandemic is an ongoing situation affecting work, social contacts and potential health, this is becoming a long-term stressor potentially affecting many areas in your life or someone you know. Realising that the stress is mounting, not because you’re weak; but because you’re normal and susceptible like anyone else, is fundamental to being able to understand what is happening to you or those around you and to talk about it…
The difficulty is that people who are depressed or feeling stressed and overwhelmed often don’t want to (or feel able to find the words) to talk about it. Instead they can be desperately trying to pretend that everything is ‘fine’. You might notice changes in the person next to you at work or in our current ‘Covid climate’ on the video call who might need support to talk about what is going on. If you think about it, we often spend a lot of time with our work colleagues and get to know their routines and foibles. This puts you in a good position to notice when something’s up.
Paying attention to Men’s mental wellbeing in particular should be kept in mind. There is still more reluctance than for women to come forward and talk about difficulties for men. There have been some inroads in recent years regarding opening up following the headlines made by Prince William and Harry concerning their own struggles with mental health, and personalities such as Rio Ferdinand talking about his grief following the death of his wife. However, being up front about depression and anxiety still seems to be more difficult for men.
Why does understanding stress in men matter?
Stress causes mental health problems.
One in four of us will have a mental health problem this year. They’re responsible for half of all long-term absences from work.
Men’s Health Forum have this to say: “Unchecked mental health problems can be very serious indeed. About three-quarters of the people treated for depression are women but about three quarters of the people who commit suicide are men. Since depression is a major cause of suicide, something doesn’t add up. Is it us?
Talking about stress is not a sign of weakness. It takes balls”.
Some statistics we should pay attention to:
Taking the steps to get involved when someone is struggling
In England, the Mental Health Foundation says men are less likely than women to disclose mental health issues to family or friends. Why is this still the case when we have many different ways to talk to each other now?.
We recommend some of the following strategies:
- See the signs
Notice if you or a mate at work is changing his/her behaviours significantly. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Look out for mood swings: such as increased irritability, sadness, moodiness or withdrawal. Do they seem more tired or run down, complain of more physical ailments?
- Recognise if there are changes in eating habits -eating much more or much less, or eating more sugary/fatty foods.
- Have you noticed a colleague has become less organised not finishing tasks as would normally happen or less able to concentrate? Do they struggle to take on new information or have difficulty making decisions?
- Are they taking more sick leave? Or often away or late?
- Are they dipping out of social events or not contacting friends? If they are on social media is the content of their social media posts changing significantly?
- Are they showing less interest in work and those around them?
- Are they being more self-critical saying things like ‘I’m a failure’ or it’s my fault’?
- Talk about it
We all get sad or moody from time to time and we have noticed in this pandemic that that is par for the course. However, if you notice that many of these symptoms are present for more than two weeks then it may be time to have a conversation with them about it. Talking to a workmate can be tricky when you are trying to broach something personal. The first step might be to ask to have a separate conversation outside of work time, or suggest doing something that connects you together if you are able to meet up in the current climate.
Always try to be considerate and supportive – making sure to focus on them and how they are, rather than problems that may have happened at work. Try to be open and listen. You don’t need to have the answers or solutions. Ask them how they are getting on with a simple how are you? – a tip would be to repeat the question if they say ‘I’m fine’. Ask again – how are you? Tell them that you’ve noticed that they haven’t seemed like themselves lately. …….And wait, give them time to take the step to talk to you.
- Seek Support
When talking it over with your workmate, you might feel that your colleague may need more support to help work through the mental health issues. At the end of your conversation with them try and come up with a plan or what support they could ask for. Remember to check in with them to see how they are getting on with it. If you are really concerned about someone and they are not willing to seek outside help – you may have to talk to your manager. Remember – depression is an illness and sometimes outside support is needed. Taking the first step might seem daunting for your friend or work colleague, but remind them of what advice they would give to someone else if they were in their shoes – then ask them to act on it!
Medical support: If the symptoms are affecting everyday functioning – It would be advisable to see a GP or Nurse Practitioner at the surgery. Advice might be needed on medication or a referral to NHS mental health services that often offer talking therapies.
Therapeutic Support: If the NHS waiting time for Therapy is very high in your area – you can recommend seeking out private therapy. (look at our blog on choosing an accredited therapist). CBT is very good for dealing with current situations and understanding the patterns of unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that keep you stuck in a depressed or anxious cycle. You learn how to find different perspectives and challenge old behaviours to develop coping strategies that help you feel more in control whilst tolerating the uncertainties of this current Pandemic. Look at our website to see what services BraintrainersUK can offer you.
Workplace support: Your workplace may well have an Employment Assist Scheme to access counselling services and other advice. Ask your workmate to talk to their manager or Occupational Health if they can about what they might need to help get them through this period. You may be able to help by reminding them that they can work through a mental health condition and that you can support them with finding ways to improve their work-life balance and ease the pressure rather than going off sick.
Below is a list of useful online resources, that provide information on self-care, support and general signposting to other organisations who may be able to help. All are available for FREE.
- The NHS Every Mind Matters website is an excellent information source if you are looking for advice on how to manage your mental health at home. It includes informative pages on common mental health conditions and there is the option to complete a quick quiz to provide you with a personalised wellbeing plan (called a Mind Plan). https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/
- Mind https://www.mind.org.uk/ Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am – 6pm, Monday – Friday).
- Mens Health Forum: https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/
- Young Minds : https://youngminds.org.uk/
If you need urgent help text YM to 85258 : free 24/7 support across the UK
If you are a parent needing help contact the helpline on: 0808 802 5544 or use the contact form online.
- Rethink: https://www.rethink.org
Contact BraintrainersUK for confidential advice and support:
Choosing to use BrainTrainersUK for your individual needs or for your workforce benefits you as there is no waiting time for a free consultation. We are not a generic service we are experts in our field. BraintrainersUK have a passion for delivering first class mental health therapy and training. Our services are embedded with evidence-based CBT that has proven excellent recovery rates.
For more information about our business, our team and how we can help you visit our website, give us a call or email us.
We cover businesses and organisations across London & the South East. Individual therapy online or face to face all while still providing support for our front line services working as NHS Mental Health Professionals
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