Today is World Mental Health Day, which raises awareness about mental health conditions and works to remove the social stigma that surrounds them. Many people struggle with anxiety and depression, but fear they’ll be shunned if they open up about their experience or ask for help. But trying to act as though everything is completely fine can create added pressure or lead to more isolation.
This is especially problematic in the workplace, which is the theme of this year’s global event. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns can typically make it difficult to be productive, and yet there’s a stigma about addressing this with employers. That’s why it’s so important for employers and colleagues to create an atmosphere that is supportive and sensitive to someone’s mental wellbeing.
What can you do, etiquette-wise, to help those who need support? For starters, think about the language you use. There are plenty of ways to say you disagree with something with resorting to stigmatizing terms like “crazy,” “mental,” or “nuts.”
If someone confides that they are struggling, listen to them. Encourage them to make self-care a priority, and ask if they have discussed these feelings with a doctor or counselor. Let them know that you are there if they need to talk. Don’t gossip with anyone else about these concerns, and cut the person some slack. They may not feel comfortable in a certain social situation, or may find some behavior to be triggering. Respect that.
People experience anxiety, depression, and even grief differently. Don’t assume that because someone seems upbeat all the time that they can’t be working through some serious issues. And if you are the one feeling overwhelmed, please find someone you can speak to, whether it’s a friend or therapist, and know that you aren’t alone.