I want to support an employee who’s not doing well

Statistics show that 1 in 5 Australian adults have experienced a common mental disorder in the past 12 months. Of these, Anxiety disorders were the most common (14.4%), followed by Affective disorders such as Depression (6.2%) and Substance Use disorders such as alcohol dependence (5.1%). Almost half of the Australian adult population(45%) is expected to suffer during the course of their lifetime.

Unfortunately, our industry (creative, media, marketing)  can be particularly hazardous when it comes to mental health. Our research showed more than half of people in our industry displayed signs of mild to severe anxiety and depression. So we’re glad you’re here looking for ways to support and help.

How can I tell if someone is struggling ?

The fact, you’re here reading this suggests you might have detected that someone you work with isn’t themselves lately.

Mental health is different for everyone and can even vary within people from time to time. People can range from having good mental health to having a mental illness. Mental Health affects emotions, thoughts and behaviours.

Perhaps you’ve detected that someone who works for you has been quite sad or down lately? Maybe, they’re not thinking as clearly as they do normally?  Maybe they’re not performing like they used to? Maybe they’re withdrawing from activities they used to enjoy, seeming more tired than usual, not sleeping well. Maybe they don’t seem like they’re coping in a way you’re used to seeing them cope? Maybe they’re excessively worrying about something? Maybe you’ve heard they’re feeing suicidal? There are a range of signs and symptoms someone may be struggling.

Beyond Blue has covered these signs in a range of support articles on their website.

“We have to keep an eye out for each other.”

If I think someone’s struggling what should I do?

Don’t ignore it and think they’ll get over it.  Start a Conversation.

Find a private time and place where you can let the person know you’re worried about them because they don’t seem like themselves lately – is everything ok ?

It’s really important to LISTEN, NON-JUDGEMENTALLY. You’re not there to blame them, fix them,  tell them it’s not that bad, tell them what you did when something similar happened to you or tell them how to fix it. It’s not about you.  You have one job. To listen. To listen to understand, not to solve. This is a skill that can be harder than we think to master.

This advice from Headsup and this guide from Beyond Blue are great places to start.

Here are some other resources on how to have the conversation and some courses you can take to prepare yourself:

Mental Health First Aid courses

This course is equal parts essential, enlightening and effective. If you want to be ready when the time comes, then this is the best course you can do.

Supporting someone at work

Supporting someone doesn’t have to be hard. Download and read this guide from Beyond Blue.

Accidental Counsellor training course

It could happen at anytime. Someone chooses to open up to you (which is great)! But how do you respond?

“The best thing you can to do is listen – and not judge.”

So, you’ve listened and understood. Then what ?

You might be relieved to know you don’t need to try and fix them. You’re not the expert. The best thing you can do is encourage the person to seek professional help. Offer to go with them if that seems appropriate and you can commit to doing that.

Who should we call ?

You might suggest they connect with your company EAP Counsellor (Employee Assistance Program) or chat to their GP. The GP is a great place to start as they can recommend the right professional treatment or even medication.  They may already have a Psychologist or Counsellor they talk to. The person may also have close family or friends they can call upon for support. They may have faced something similar before and know what’s worked for them in the past. Help the person think about who they can approach professionally and for personal support.

Follow up

Ask them how their appointment went. Talk about their experience. Encourage them to keep looking after themselves.

What about me ?

Don’t forget to look after yourself. Do something that makes yourself feel good – like going for a walk. It’s important you look after your own physical and mental health. Here’s a link to what you can do for yourself.

Support Services you can suggest:

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide call back service: 1300 659 467

If you are facing an emergency, or the person is at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000.

“You might think it’s confronting and uncomfortable – but it’s nothing compared to the alternative.”

More Resources

Mentally Healthy 2022 Research
Mentally Healthy 2018 Research
Mentally Healthy 2020 Research
Empathy and perspective - lessons for leaders
6 expressions to show empathy at work
The importance of empathy in the workplace
How does empathy influence creativity?
Asking For A Friend
Mental Health First Aid for leaders - 2020 courses
Adman: Minimum Standards of Mental Health
Adman is smashing mental health stigmas – Zap, Pow!
Report into the mental health of creative students
My Team app - check in with your closest supporters
Signs of burnout
Why we all need to practice emotional first aid
How to deal with low self-esteem, anxiety and depression after graduation
Our dangerous obsession with perfectionism
Why are creatives so tired?
Mental Health Continuum
Accidental Counsellor training course

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