How to help a colleague with a mental health problem

  • 16 months ago
3 minute read.
How to help a colleague with a mental health problem

Is your colleague or coworker being erratic or behaving out of the ordinary? Do you want to help them but aren’t sure where to begin? If you said yes, this blog is for you. Below you’ll find common challenges employees with mental issues face and ways to deal with the same. By the end, you’ll be able to create a healthy workplace for you and your colleagues. So, let’s get started.

What is a mental health problem?

Mental health problems are the conditions that impact your behavior, mood, and thinking pattern. Common examples are anxiety issues, depression, etc.

What problems may you notice in your colleague suffering from poor mental health?

Exhibiting erratic behavior

You might find your colleague exhibiting erratic behavior that’s otherwise entirely predictable. This can affect how you deal with the person and can eventually impact your behavior too.

Missing deadlines

A person suffering from mental issues is usually unable to concentrate at work. This hampers work productivity and results in missing deadlines. And if your colleague misses the deadlines, you might have to cover it up for them by working extra.

Missing the office frequently

If mental peace is disturbed, one feels like taking frequent leaves from the office. They might end up sleeping all day or binge-watching Netflix. And this, again, can hamper productivity.

How can you help a colleague with mental health issues?

Don’t jump to conclusions

It’s common for us humans to jump to conclusions. We notice a pattern and then label it. However, you should avoid this in the case of mental issues. If your colleague is behaving weirdly, missing deadlines, or missing work, it may not necessarily be a mental issue. Maybe it’s something temporary, or perhaps it’s the way the person works.

Instead of assuming or judging, you can let them know how you feel. And if they open up, you can understand what they’re going through.

Creating an inclusive environment

Sometimes, people have a unique way of working that you might find absurd, weird, or depressing. And this should be respected. You should talk to your manager about creating an inclusive environment.

An inclusive environment is where each employee is accepted as normal amid the differences. This environment demolishes the one-size-fits-all approach and makes each employee valued irrespective of the differences.


Refrain from asking direct questions such as:

  • Are you depressed?
  • Or are you suffering from a severe mental issue?

Instead of doing the above, observe the behavior and try to understand the entire situation. You can talk to them about how you’re finding it hard to meet the project deadlines without them. If you’re a good friend of the concerned person, you can ask, “Is there something wrong.” This way, you can make them open up on their will.

Listen and listen carefully

Sometimes when you fill your mind with hundreds of thoughts, you might exhibit depressing behavior. The same could be happening with your colleague. If they decide to open up, just listen to them and listen carefully. Don’t interrupt no matter what, and refrain from offering any absurd suggestions. Sometimes, people just want to pour their hearts out, and that’s it.

Professional help

If you think the issue is serious, or maybe it’s your senior who’s affected, you might want to get in touch with professionals. You can start by discussing the matter with HR. You can request them to introduce Employee Assistance Programs to ensure workplace safety. Such programs are organized by experts who know exactly how to deal with people suffering from mental issues.

Wrapping Up

Mental issues are a social stigma which is why people don’t easily open up. But this never means you should force them. Be nice to such people and try to handle the situation with maturity. And always go for professional help when necessary.

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