Forensic Psychologist, Luke Broomhall joins us in the latest instalment of the COVID-19 Wellbeing – Interview Series. Mr Broomhall shares his tips and advice for leaders, managers and team members on how they can look after their own mental health and that of others.
How can leaders check in on the mental health of their team members?
Mr Broomhall urges us to look out for behaviours that sit outside the norm for that person, such as bouts of tearfulness, withdrawal, or anger. If so be prepared to sit down and open up a conversation with this person on the behaviours, you have noticed.
You might like to start the conversation by saying…
“ [Name} I have noticed lately that you seem a bit more [describe the behaviour e.g. withdrawn and quiet] and [these goals or items haven’t been met] and I’m a bit concerned about you and I just want to know if you’re okay and if there’s anything I can do?”
The role of the manager or leader when handling the response to this question is to have a human response grounded in empathy, but to also understand what they can and can’t control, and in turn to provide resources for the individual to access that will support them. When you encounter a strong emotional response from an individual you can respond to them as described below:
- Demonstrate empathy for the emotion that is occurring by acknowledging the emotion exists and that you can see that they are experiencing this.
- Affirm that their experience of this emotion is valid and okay, and that you are there to listen and help in whatever ways that you can control.
“I understand you are feeling this way, tell me more about your experiences and what you are going through at the moment”
- Take the time to listen and not jump in too soon with solutions.
- Act to change what you can for the wellbeing of the individual and provide access to support resources and persons as needed.
Returning to the Workplace
In the transition back into the physical workplace there are several measures and tips that leaders and managers can employ to ease people into the ‘new normal’ of post-COVID-19 work.
- Be patient while employees’ transition.
- Ensure workplaces do not grow complacent with preventative COVID-19 measures.
- Be aware that not all staff members will be positive about the return to the workplace and should be aware of this as a flag for potential issues around conflict, bullying and other concerns.
- Encourage the access of Employee Assistance Programs for early intervention.
- Develop and grow the mental health literacy of leaders and managers.
How Can We Help a Colleague or a Friend Who is Struggling?
We all want to be able to help and support our friends and colleagues when we can see they may be experiencing mental distress. Mr Broomhall shares that we can all take an active role in checking in with others during this time, but firstly you must:
- Fit your own oxygen mask first – make sure you are in a balanced and centered place and ask yourself continuously ‘Am I coping okay myself?’, as it is very hard to look after other people if we are in a difficult space ourselves.
- Focus on the behaviours you can see when discussing your concerns, refrain from saying that they seem more depressed or anxious, instead note that they may have been more withdrawn tearful, etc.
- Provide an opportunity for them to speak openly with you, for example go for a casual coffee or walk together building on social connection.
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