Asking About Mental Health

Choose Curiosity Over Fear When It Comes to Mental Health

By now you have likely noticed the impact the loss of in-person connection has had on you and your team. I have noticed it in myself, and it comes in waves. If you catch me on a good day, I sound good. If you catch me on a bad day, I don’t.

Mental health claims in Canada are on the rise, and experts believe that social isolation may be a factor. An increasing tendency for people to live alone, a stronger dependence on technology, and sprawling urbanization have been identified as contributing factors for loneliness. A 2019 Angus Reid poll found that one in four Canadian adults identifies as being lonely.

So how do you know if someone you work with is just having a bad day or if it is more than that? Could there be something bigger going on? How do you ask about it? Are you even supposed to ask about it? What is the line between what is an appropriate question and what is intrusive or inappropriate? Can you get into trouble just by asking? Welcome to the rabbit hole of self-doubt!

Start by leading with curiosity and compassion over fear. If your gut tells you something might be up, summon the courage to ask some questions rather than worrying if you will ask all the right ones. Your goal is to create an opportunity for someone to share.

Here are two beginner tips for you to use to simply start a conversation:

  1. Make it safe: Do it privately. Think about your relationship with the person – is there a high degree of trust between the two of you or not so much? Consider that when you consider your approach and ask yourself: what would work best given how well we know each other?
  2. Keep it open: What have you noticed is going on? Sometimes making a (factual, not judgemental) observation is a good place to start. “I have noticed this happening; can you tell me a bit more about what is going on for you there?” Some other questions you may wish to try are:
    • How are you feeling today, really?
    • What’s taking up most of your headspace right now?
    • How have you been sleeping?
    • What have you been doing to recharge?
    • What is taking energy from you these days?

Did you know…

Over the past five years, Canadian mental health claims have been the fastest growing type of long-term disability (LTD) claim, up 27% from 2014 to 2019. Mental health related claims account for 30% of all long term disability claims (Sun Life, Designed for Health Report)

In 2019, 59% of working Canadians reported that they had experienced a mental health issue. (2019 Sun Life Barometer Survey)

Employers who take action on mental health maintain 50% lower mental health claims than the industry average. (Sun Life, Case Study, Designed for Health Report)

Employers actually have what is called a “duty to inquire”. If an organization is aware, or reasonably ought to be aware, that there may be a relationship between a disability (including a mental health issue) and someone’s job performance, the organization has a “duty to inquire” into that possible relationship.

If you are wondering if you, or someone you work with might be struggling with something related to mental health, please don’t ignore it. Pay attention and choose curiosity and compassion over fear.

Need a hand with this kind of tricky subject matter? Granville West is here to help. The health and wellness of our clients is important to us!

Have questions? We have answers.

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