Starting a Mental Health Dialogue with a Coworker

How to talk about mental health in the workplace

Many may believe that the so-called taboo topic of mental health should not be brought into the professional sphere, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Efforts to normalize talking about mental health and offering support to coworkers in need will help work towards ending the negative stereotypes and stigma.

co worker mental health dialogue

Suffering from mental health struggles can most certainly affect your work ethic, behavior, and productivity. If you notice a fellow coworker exhibiting signs of mental health issues, offering a helping hand can go a long way in creating a healthier workplace atmosphere.

Victoria Maxwell, award-winning keynote speaker, offers an easy-to-follow framework to implement in the workplace to help talk to coworkers about mental health: O.A.R.S.

The O.A.R.S. approach outlines 4 steps to open the dialogue around mental health with a fellow coworker.

1. O- Observe: This first step requires observation of the individual in question to note changes in behavior. Perhaps document these observations for personal use to distinguish between a bad day and a serious mental health problem.

2. A- Act & Actively Listen: Start the discussion by asking open-ended questions that allow for more than a yes or no answer. Validate their feelings and be patient with your coworker since this may be a difficult subject to broach. Discuss the impact of their behavior and focus on collaborative problem-solving to move forward.

3. R- Refer: Find out if your organization offers an EAP, or Employee Assistance Program, or any other behavioral health resources. You can also refer them to outside community resources to seek professional help.

4. S- Support: Continue to check in with your coworker and keep the conversation going in the workplace. Set healthy objectives and act as a support system.

This is just one way to open the dialogue about mental health with a coworker. Bringing the conversation about mental health issues into the workplace is essential to break the stigma. If you or someone you know is struggling, clinicians in our Counseling & Wellness Centers can help.

Call our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632 x9500) for more information or to schedule an appointment.