Mental health at work: the difficult conversation…

Mobile phone in hand - Derbyshire therapist Nicola Tatham from Freedom Therapy discusses Mental Health in the workplace
Derbyshire therapist Nicola Tatham from Freedom Therapy discusses Mental Health in the workplace.

Freedom Therapy counsellor Nicola Tatham, based in Derbyshire poses the following scenario that is something many of us will have experienced at work. Take a moment to read it through and then make a note of what your instinctual reaction was. What thoughts did you have? How did you feel? What do you think you would do?

You pick up the phone early one morning in the office. A colleague explains that he won’t be coming in to work today. In line with company policy you ask him why. There is a long pause. He eventually replies by saying ‘To be honest, it’s hard to explain and I don’t really know where to start. I just don’t feel myself at the moment. I can’t sleep, I’ve lost my confidence and I am doubting why I even bother. I can’t face another day having conversations I don’t feel equipped to handle and I think a day off might do me the world of good.’

 Then consider this phone call…

‘I have been up all night with sickness and diarrhoea and have had no sleep whatsoever. I am feeling a lot better now but I think I need to go back to bed and catch up on my sleep. I feel tired from being on the loo all night.’

Compare and contrast how you felt about these two hypothetical scenarios. Which conversation would you prefer to be having? The stigma that comes with mental health means that many people would often prefer to talk vomit and diarrhoea than depression and anxiety.

The sickness bug is likely to pass quickly and there isn’t much you can do to help. However, the symptoms your colleague described in the first conversation suggest that there is a lot happening for them right now. Your support could make a world of difference. Next time a colleague appears to not be themselves, ask them how they are and whether there is anything you can do to help. It might be just what they need!

If you are currently worried about your own mental health and are in two minds about whether to share this at work, take a look at this useful article by Time to Change.

If you are worried about a colleague, take a look at this useful practical advice from The Mental Health Foundation.

Freedom Therapy is based in Belper, Derbyshire and offers one to one counselling and psychotherapy. Belper is easy to reach with direct regular train access from Duffield, Derby and Matlock. Our therapy room is on the A6 so is easily commutable from Ashbourne, Darley Abbey, Allestree and beyond for those looking for psychotherapy. Do get in touch if you feel we can be of benefit to you. We are also able to support businesses with mental health awareness and supporting their employees.