At any given time, 1 in 6 working-age adults have symptoms associated with poor mental health. From depression to anxiety, lack of self-confidence or stress, mental health can have a huge impact on how people perceive the world around them and make every day working tasks more challenging.

As part of Suicide Prevention Month, we talk to Karen Barnacle, Group HR Manager at The HEX Group, about recognising and supporting colleagues facing mental health.

“One in four of us face mental health illness at some point in our lives. It can affect us all in different ways. Changes in mood and behaviour are often signs an individual is struggling but for some the signs will be less obvious. Recognising an individual who is struggling may be difficult, which is why one of the most important things I can do as Group HR Manager is to make sure that lines of communication are always open and colleagues know where to turn if they need help.

Make time to talk

“Being aware of changes in people’s mental health and taking the time to check in and ask questions is one of the most important steps in helping to support someone who may be struggling. This is why, at The HEX Group, we offer a free telephone counselling service to all staff.  It can be difficult to open up to the people closest to you, which is why we’ve partnered with Wellbeing Solutions, giving our colleagues access to this invaluable, confidential service.

Be mindful of your approach

“As colleagues we are not trained therapists, but we are very passionate about supporting our team, which is why we hold regular one to ones with staff and have free support tools available for those who feel they are struggling with low mood or mental health challenges.

“Staff wellbeing will always be a top priority and we are constantly adding new initiatives to support our staff including the introduction of more Mental Health First Aiders later in the year.

What can you do to help?

Often, when people are struggling the most helpful thing is to have someone who will listen, or to hear a caring voice. It is then important to signpost people to the right place for professional help. Organisations such as Mind or Samaritans are great resources.  At The Hex Group, our door is always open and if you’re worried about a colleague, please share your concerns with us either in person or through our Shout Up scheme.

Small acts of kindness

Offering to help someone you can see is struggling might be the connection they needed. Making someone a cup of tea, asking if they want to join you for lunch are simple things that could make the difference to somebody’s day.

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