The Scottish Paralegal Association

Mental Health Awareness Week 13-19 May

09 May

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How to have a conversation with a colleague about their mental wellbeing
With Mental Health Awareness Week on the horizon (13-19 May) now is a great time to pay attention to the wellbeing of your colleagues.

If you are working with someone who appears to be struggling, is frequently anxious, short-tempered or low and depressed, consider asking your colleague in private what is wrong and how you might help. Talking to a colleague in this way can be difficult but you don’t need to be an expert in mental health to start a conversation of this nature. It’s important to remember that talking could make all the difference to your colleague’s mental health.

Here are some tips that might help.
 Find a suitable place, ideally outside of the office; perhaps a café or go for a walk.

 The conversation could be started with a simple ‘How are you?’ Once a person knows they are being given the space and time to talk, they often will.

 Actively listen to the person, and give them your undivided attention. Keep your phone switched on silent and refrain from looking at your watch.

 Don’t interrupt – try to leave any questions or comments you may have until the person has finished.

 Ask open questions: – What support do you have in place? What would you like to happen in this situation?”

 Use positive body language, and encourage the person to continue with small verbal comments like ‘I see’ or ‘what happened next?’

 Check your understanding by paraphrasing what the person has said back to them.

 Respond by using empathetic statements such as: “I appreciate this must be difficult for you…”

 Avoid clichés. Comments like ‘pull yourself together’ or ‘what will be, will be’ are not helpful.

 Don’t make the conversation about you: avoid saying things like ‘ I know how you feel’ or ‘The same thing happened to me.’

 The important thing is to listen, rather than give advice, the individual needs to be able to act for themselves.

 Be reassuring and signpost them to support such as LawCare, HR, another colleague or suggest they visit their GP.

If you are worried about a colleague you can call the LawCare helpline on 0800 279 6888. The helpline is free, independent and confidential.

Additional information, resources and factsheets are available at