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Why you should always check on your friends and colleagues

And why they should never be afraid to talk…

Over the last few years, some very famous people tragically lost their battles with mental ill-health. The likes of Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, Chester Bennington, and going back a little further - Robin Williams, all took their own lives because of mental health struggles.

The reason we wanted to talk specifically about these 4 is that on the outside, these people looked very content and happy with their lives; friends and family rarely suspected anything was troubling them so they didn’t feel the need to check on them and ask about their mental health, which seems logical right? After all, if someone looks fit and physically healthy, you wouldn’t ask how their physical health is, would you?

"The last I talked with her, the night before last, she was happy, planning a trip to California to look at colleges. She doted on her daughter."

Kate Spade's Father

“My next tweet is the most personal tweet I have ever done. I’m showing this so that you know that depression doesn’t have a face or a mood.”

Talinda Bennington, wife of Chester

It’s for this reason that there needs to be a big shift in the way we view mental health. We shouldn’t just be asking those who seem a ‘bit down’ if they’re ok, because quite a lot of the time, it’s those who seem full of life that are struggling inside. 

Someone you know will have a mental health problem right now – a family member, your friend, your workmate. He or she just might not know how to tell you.

So try to make a little more effort with your friends and colleagues. Even just a simple “how are you?” with a smile could be enough for someone to start talking about a problem. If you’re not completely satisfied that the person is ok, try adding a “you sure?” after and see how they respond.

Struggling with mental ill-health? Don’t be afraid to talk…

It may seem very daunting to talk about your mental ill-health but once it’s out in the open, you’ve already made it over the most difficult hurdle. If you’re surrounded by good people you won’t be judged, they’ll offer you support and help you to the best of their ability, even if that means getting you professional help from someone who is better qualified.

With advances in technology, it’s arguably easier to talk about your mental health now than it has been at any other stage in history. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone about it face to face, send them a message or an email. Mental Health America has a great email template that you can use to send to a colleague or your employer.

You can also access our Wellness Action Plan via our Mental Health & Wellbeing free resources page. A Wellness Action Plan is a fantastic way for you to note down what you need to stay mentally well at work. Once you've filled it out, keep it close to hand to use whenever you need to; it’s a useful tool when you’re feeling stressed or start to experience poor mental health. Some parts of the plan - or all of it if you’re happy to share - can be discussed with your manager so they can oer you as much support as possible.

5 Celebrities Who Have Opened Up About Mental Illnesses

How can employers make their organisation mental health-friendly?

  • Be approachable - make sure you make it as clear as possible to all staff that support is always available should they need it. If you - as an employer - don't feel comfortable having those important conversations with your staff, then you could always offer certain staff the opportunity to become Mental Health First Aiders.
  • Create a Stress Awareness Space, where your employees can share their thoughts and feelings; this can make a HUGE difference to someone who is feeling down or stressed. You could also provide cards and a 'Stress Awareness Wall' for staff to write on, this gives them a chance to put things on paper to share with their colleagues! 
  • Invest in some quality workplace wellbeing training. We have a range of online Mental Health & Wellbeing Training courses.
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