Starting the conversation
At Jaguar Land Rover, we believe talking about mental health can help you and those around you to be healthier and happier.
By taking the time to have a conversation about mental health with a colleague, friend or family member, we can show that it’s okay to talk about mental health and help steer those who are struggling in the right direction.
Talking about mental health might seem a little daunting – it’s not a conversation we have every day. Starting the conversation is usually the hardest bit, so use the tips in the info-graphic adjacent and the practical tips found below to help get you going. It’s important to remember you don’t have to be an expert.
Starting a conversation can be a powerful way to challenge mental health stigma and get people to think about their perceptions.
Take 10 minutes using the tips provided to start a meaningful conversation today.
Together we can have the conversation.
The role of leaders in the business
As a minimum you should aim to demonstrate...
- Leadership – role model having the conversation
- Collaboration – connect those who you feel could support each other
- The power of stories – encourage the conversation
- Putting mental health on the agenda – regularly talk to your team and your support network about how you and they are feeling
- Create space for the team to raise issues, both work issues and any personal issues
- Encourage the uptake of stress management techniques, take lunch breaks and support social interaction
Practical tips to help the conversation
It can feel daunting to start a conversation about mental health, but it 's easier than you might think.
Find a suitable time and quiet place for your discussion.
"How are you?" is a simple effective opening question. The important next step is to wait and listen fully for the response. The response might be "I’m fine”" but their tone and manner might say otherwise.
Be patient – people may not want to open up immediately, but knowing that you are open to listening is likely to encourage discussion when they are ready.
The mental health charity, Mind, advises avoiding comments such as "I’m sure it will pass", “cheer up", "things could be worse" or anything else which minimises the concerns of the person. During periods of high stress we tend to lose rational thinking and fatigue may lead to an inability to think clearly.
Listen without making comparisons to your own experience.
Unless specifically asked, try to avoid problem solving statements seeking to provide solutions. You are not the expert! Often people just want reassurance and knowing you will be there for them is enough.
Ask "What can I do to help?". The person may not have an answer immediately and simply knowing that there is someone willing to support them, in whatever way, is often a huge relief. Practical offers of assistance can be very welcome. This may involve helping clear a colleague’s diary to enable recuperation or simply buying them a cup of coffee and encouraging them to take a break during busy periods.
If faced with tears, frustration or anger it is natural to feel uncomfortable or feel the need to provide comfort. Try to stay calm even if you start to feel upset yourself. Emotional expressions can be a very cathartic and it is advisable to simply allow the person to express themselves without interruption. Let the person know that it is okay.
Except for ethical situations where you may be obliged to disclose concerns, reassure your colleague that the discussion is in confidence.
Try to avoid taking too much on yourself. If you are overloaded with work or personal demands, it is hard to provide space to support others.
The support you offer may simply be allowing your colleague to offload their concerns. To be listened to is a great starting point.
You may be the first person who has fully listened to your colleague in a long time. Approaching conversations from a position of kind enquiry is a great place to start.
A number of professional and support resources are available for those with mental health problems. Signposting your colleagues to these may be a help.
Please remember, if you do not feel comfortable having a conversation about mental health then that's okay too. However, if you notice some signs that someone is in need of some help or could do with someone to talk to, perhaps mention it to your manager as they may be better placed to have the conversation.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s important you seek some help from your GP. If it’s affecting your ability to work, speak to your manager to see if a referral to Occupational Health is appropriate. You can contact our EAP for free and confidential support 24/7, 365 days a year.