Mental Health Issues In The Workplace


Beyond Blue Help Line 1300224636

I recently had the pleasure to undertake the St John respond to crisis situations course. The course deals with what is mental illness, how to identify it and how to help people dealing with mental health issues.

One in five Australians surveyed suffer from mental health issues, so its relevant that people in roles of responsibility  have an understanding on how to help mental health sufferers in their workplace.

Some common types of mental health issues you may find in your workplace include, people suffering from anxiety, depression or psychotic disorders.

Some Facts

  • Almost one in five Australians surveyed had experienced symptoms of a mental disorder during the 12 month period before the survey.
  • Anxiety disorders were most common – 14.4%, followed by affective disorders – 6.2% (of which depression is 4.1%), and substance use disorders – 5.1% (of which 4.3% is alcohol related).
  • The percentage of people meeting the criteria for diagnosis of a mental illness was highest in younger people, with the prevalence decreasing with age. Twenty-six per cent of 18-24 year olds had experienced a mental disorder, while only 5.9% of people aged 65 years and over had experienced a mental disorder.
  • People unemployed or not in the paid workforce had the highest rates of mental disorder, a prevalence rate of 26% for unemployed men and 34% for unemployed women.
  • Those with a mental disorder averaged three days out of role (i.e. unable to undertake normal activity because of health problems) over a four-week period. This compared with one day out of role for people with no physical or mental condition.

So what can you do if you notice somebody is not themselves at your work ? Some key signs are :

  • Confused thinking
  • Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Strange thoughts (delusions)
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Numerous unexplained physical ailments
  • Substance use

Some of the key things I learnt from the training day include :

  1. Listen to them , try to put yourself in their shoes.
  2. Show empathy for their situation.
  3. Treat the person with respect and dignity
  4. Do not blame the person for their illness
  5. Offer consistent emotional support and understanding
  6. Encourage the person to talk to you
  7. Be a good listener
  8. Give the person hope for recovery
  9. If the person would like information, make sure the resources you provide are accurate and appropriate to their situation

*This is by no means a complete list and i do not claim to be an expert or trained professional.

If you are interested to learn more on how to identify and help sufferers of mental health click this link : How to Help a Friend, Family Member or Co-worker with a Mental Illness or Crisis

Thanks for reading


5 Rules of Communication


Remember the old saying, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason?  This saying is important for a reason, listening is so central to good communication, and good communication is essential in business. We are all guilty of spending too much time running our mouths, instead of actively listening. Here’s a little-known communication fact, the finest communicators amongst us listen much more than they speak. Why is listening so hard for people to work out? When you’re a great listener, you experience no end of positive outcomes. You understand others more, you save time due to fewer communication misunderstandings, and you build stronger relationships as people like to feel that they’ve been heard and understood.

Follow the 5 Rules:

  1. All great listeners follow some basic rules. First, don’t multitask, multitasking is not good, it divides your attention and makes the other person think that you are generally not interested. If someone is talking to you and your reading emails or texting they will perceive you as not being present and not caring. The rule is to put down any other work and focus directly on the person speaking, give them your full undivided attention.
  1. Two, try and use appropriate body language.Good body language includes facing the person, making eye contact and showing interest by nodding or leaning forward etc. Try and avoid aggressive posture or negatively using your hands and arms as a barrier. All of these actions used together help the person feel at ease and visually shows them you’re listening and engaged with what they’re saying.
  1. Thirdly concentrate on what the person is saying without immediately judging or planning your own response before the speaker has finished speaking.  From time to time we all get into the bad habit of assuming we know what the other person is going to say, so we judge and think about what we’re going to say in response without thoroughly listening. There might be subtle changes in their voice or certain words they use that will have useful meaning to you if you’re paying attention instead of prematurely responding inside your mind.
  1. Rule four is to take notes. Take down a small number of short words, notes are great if you have bad memory, and it also sends a strong message to the other person that you’re actively listening and care about what’s being said.
  1. Finally, when the person is done speaking, consider summarizing what was said. After asking any clarifying questions, giving a quick summary gives the other person the confidence that they were heard correctly. Just say something like, okay, if I heard you correctly, you want us to A, B, and C. Is this right? They can then correct you if needed, or simply confirm your understanding of what’s been said.

 The art of communication has a lot to do with how you use words, but it’s even more about how you hear the words of others. Use these tips and the people you speak with will know that you’re truly listening and that they’ve been heard.

  Thanks for Reading.








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