By Meghan Hadley
Around a year ago, my manager at a previous company called me to his office and asked the question, “are you ok?”
The series of events that lead up to this meeting had been some of the most tumultuous and difficult of my life. I had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and the effects of my new medication gave me terrible nightmares, near constant hand tremors and even more severe anxiety than I had ever experienced.
I knew my efficiency at work had been declining and had expected the meeting would be focused on performance management. But instead I was asked with genuine concern,
“are you ok?”
The simple answer to this question was no. I opened up to my manager, and told him how I’d been struggling to perform as I had previously. He listened, sympathised, and once I finished talking, asked how he could support me in the future.
It was one of the more uncomfortable conversations I’ve ever participated in, but left me feeling validated, supported and positive about my future.
It is conversations like these that R U OK Day aims to facilitate. Today I held a seminar for my colleagues at Cundall to give them the tools to support others through difficult times.
We focused on identifying the warning signs that someone is struggling, how to approach them and the best way to listen and offer support. You don’t have to be an expert, or qualified mental health professional to help a friend or colleague through a period of low mental health.
All you have to do is ask if they are ok, offer a kind ear to listen, and continued support in whatever way that particular person needs.
I’m so grateful to so many of my new colleagues who showed up to listen to my presentation to learn how to help a friend or co-worker who isn’t feeling their best.
If you are looking for more resources or techniques to support someone who’s struggling with their mental health, the links below are a great place to start:
R U OK Day: https://www.ruok.org.au/
Beyond Blue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au
Black Dog Institute: https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/
Head to Health: https://headtohealth.gov.au/