According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression and anxiety cost the global economy one trillion United States dollars (more than R15 trillion) per year in lost productivity

The WHO notes that, globally, one in four people will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. “Around 450-million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide,” the Organisation states.

“Treatments are available, but nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional.”

However, if you work with someone who has mental health issues, there is something that can be done…  Time to Change, a growing social movement that aims to change the way people think about mental health problems, offers some tips through its Time to Talk campaign (where it urges everyone to have a conversation about mental health).

The campaign highlights how speaking about mental health helps remove misconceptions and stigmas that prevent people from getting the help they need. It also provides some tips to get the conversation going.

Drink some tea

Brew a fresh cup of tea and open up a box of biscuits. This will set the scene for a friendly chat.

Start small

A text or short phone call opens the door to caring discussions around mental wellness. Be conversational and understand when casual becomes serious.

Location, location, location

Face-to-face conversations may increase pressure for a person dealing with mental health issues. Go for a walk in the park, a change of scenery will deepen the connection.

Be present

Make the time and effort to be there 100 percent with no distractions from your phone. This will make your colleague feel heard and cared for.

Be open and honest

While it may be easier said than done, being transparent about your own life challenges will go a long way to encouraging your co-worker to do the same.

Don’t indulge

Treat any person that faces a mental disorder the same as you would any other person. Don’t show pity and don’t pamper them. This can disempower them, make them feel inadequate and make it difficult to achieve their goals and ambitions.

“While talk-therapy is better carried out by a healthcare professional, talking to people in the community also helps,” the campaign highlights. “It’s a form of opening up on the difficulties of living with a mental disorder and goes a long way to reducing anxiety and breaking stigmas.”

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