How to help when colleagues are struggling


Mental health issues affect many, but it can be difficult to see who is struggling. Military mental resilience and performance coach James Elliott discusses how to identify who needs help and what you can do

We’ve all probably sat in Accident and Emergency at some point, pondering the full spectrum of humanity. Cauliflower-eared rugby player with bones sticking out at angles that they shouldn’t, an exhausted child with their hand in an enormous bandage. All these people with a story.

But there’s an illness that appears, on the surface at least, to have almost no symptoms. Mental health.

A silent struggle

The difficulty with mental health is identifying when a person is struggling. We know 1 in 4 of us do, and that was before pandemics, restrictions and bubbles, so is it worse now?

It’s certainly not been made easier. It’s certainly not been aided by uncertainty, by having to try and focus on and end date that seems to forever slip further away, to try and focus more on your work only to be told that because of restrictions, things are moving even slower..

Time to start communicating

I think the time for awareness is over. It’s time for action by communicating, listening and speaking.

But when you communicate, be open with people you love, people you haven’t spoken to in a long time and to people who you know may be struggling. When you listen, listen intently, respond to their stories, let them speak their truth, let them know that they’re deserving of your time, and when you speak, be vulnerable, and share how it is that you are feeling, be open and honest and raw, and most of all, be human.

Speaking to each other is what will help identify when someone is struggling.

The science behind talking is that you are allowing an individual to communicate and therefore process their emotions. You’re developing a relationship from which you can identify a person’s attitudes, behaviours and beliefs and therefore, notice a change in them.

Often when a person is struggling with their mental health, it manifests itself as a behavioural change, they no longer enjoy the activities that they used to; the issue is, that you didn’t know what those were in the first place.

Make a difference

Be the change that you want to see and start communicating in a way that encourages others to open up around you and encourages that processing. We’re stronger together.

Industry charity Ben offers a range of services if you’re struggling. See how it could help, or if you simply want more information it’s all here