In recent years, discussions around mental health and wellbeing have been less stigmatised. Yet with mental illness still affecting one in four people each year across the UK, and many more impacted by stress, low mood or burnout, it’s important we keep this topic on the agenda and give people the time and attention they deserve.
There is a real power in opening up and having a conversation, sharing what’s going on for you or showing the value you place on someone else’s wellbeing – depending which ‘side’ of the conversation you’re on. Of course, it’s always important to encourage those who have (or think they may have) a mental health condition to seek professional advice.
Where someone is struggling with stress, low mood or a specific problem which is impacting their happiness, simply starting a conversation with them can make a big difference.
If it’s your own wellbeing you’re worried about, why not:
1. Write down your feelings or text/email someone to start the conversation. It can be a lot less daunting than trying to put your thoughts into words face-to-face. And if you’d rather speak to someone you don’t know at all, then support from a professional service like a telephone helpline is another option.
2. Practice active listening so you can have a fulfilling two-way conversation about wellbeing. Relaxing your body language, nodding, smiling, and giving plenty of eye contact are essential when talking about something so personal so that both of you feel as relaxed as possible.
3. Make sure they’re looking after their physical health too – this incorporates reactive support for any ongoing issues (either through a GP or by making use of a Health Cash Plan to seek treatment or diagnostic tests), and proactively keeping as well as possible. This doesn’t have to mean a daily gym workout, going for a walk on a lunch break can help improve health while also being a mood lifter!
And Wellbeing support at work is essential not only for individuals, but also the overall productivity and success of the company itself. If you’re a manager or team leader, you can support your team in the following ways:
1. It can be difficult to open up, but some people find it easier to talk to someone they don’t know as it eliminates the worries they have about being judged. If you have an Employee Assistance Programme in place, it’s vital that employees know (and are reminded often) how to access it and what they can use it for.
2. Asking ‘how are you?’ doesn’t always invite the other person to open up about their wellbeing. That’s why it’s good to try and start conversations in different ways. It might be as simple as asking someone how they feel today or whether they’ve had a good day. Or maybe you could focus on their work first, by asking if their workload is okay and whether there’s anything you can do to alleviate any work-stresses they are experiencing. Following up with someone if they’ve mentioned a problem to you previously is also a good way to show you’re really listening and that you care about their wellbeing.
3. Team bonding is more essential than ever, giving staff members the chance to get to know each other better in a more relaxed setting. This makes it more likely for them to build genuine connections and be able to share worries and concerns with each other, and shows the value you’re placing on their individual and collective wellbeing.
So whether you’re experiencing a wellbeing dip, or you’ve noticed a colleague or friend isn’t themselves lately, starting a conversation is such an important first step 🧡
For more of Paycare’s health tip blogs – click here!