What stops us from having the conversation?
It is common to think about needing to have a conversation. Especially when you notice that a person’s behaviour has change. As a result, a manager might even run some scripts through their head or try to approach the topic. But some of the common stumbling blocks for having these important conversations are:
- Not being sure if there really is a problem
- Being unsure how to start the conversation or bring up the topic
- Feeling worried that you could want to make things worse for them
- Thinking ‘it’s really none of my business’
- Some sort of stigma around the topic
- Feeling fearful about how the person might react
Common myths and misunderstandings
Starting a conversation about mental health with a colleague can also be surrounded by some common myths or misunderstandings. These include:
- If I ask someone about their mental health, I might make it worse
- People don’t want us interfering in their business
- They’re probably already connected to support
- I need to get the conversation ‘right’, or things might happen.
Importantly, the experts say that having a conversation doesn’t mean that you will make things worse. Admittedly, the conversation might be awkward. As a rule, however, it is better to open the discussion, than not.
Having the mental health conversation
Research suggests that conversations that ‘check in’ with people can make a big difference to their health and well-being. Similarly, lots of ‘little chats’ may make a ‘bigger’ conversation easier.
For this reason, if you notice a behavioural or physical change in a person, you might say something like:
“I’ve noticed a change. I care about you. I would like to help. Would you like to have a conversation?”
Alternatively, “I’ve noticed a few things lately and I thought I’d check in with you about them…”
Take a look at this guide from Heads Up for more information.
Where to get more information?
At Open Door we have been running Mental Health First Aid courses for some time now. People who have undertaken the program have moved from a 3/10 to an 8/10 when it comes to having confidence in having a mental health conversation in the workplace. As a result, we are helping break down the barriers to conversations in the workplace. Similarly, there are a lot of organisations that offer support.
To name a few, you can speak to trained counsellors from:
Beyond Blue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/
Kids Helpline: https://kidshelpline.com.au/
Better Pride: https://betterpride.com.au