Talking about mental health isn’t easy. But a conversation has the power to change lives. That’s why this ‘Time to Talk Day’ (02 February) we’re encouraging everyone to make space in their day for a conversation about mental health.
To support you to do this, we take a look at wellbeing conversations and why they are important.
It’s never been more important to look after our own and each other’s wellbeing. Holding an effective wellbeing conversation, where your colleague feels valued and listened to, is essential to supporting their wellbeing.
These conversations should provide the space for them to holistically explore their wellbeing, but it is important to remember that you are not being asked to provide clinical advice – your role is to hold the conversation, actively listen to your colleague, be compassionate and signpost to further support.
Workload, capacity, relationships with colleagues and our physical working environment can all have an impact on our wellbeing. Likewise, factors outside work, including lack of sleep, financial worries, health conditions, caring responsibilities and other personal circumstances, can have an impact – especially if they have changed recently.
Below are some key tips to holding an effective wellbeing conversation that may help you.
Preparing for the wellbeing conversation
Find a safe, quiet, confidential space to have the wellbeing conversation
- Check in advance what support options are available, should you need to signpost your colleague to any specific services
- Make sure the conversation is inclusive. Held in an accessible space; culturally appropriate – religious festivals or events that are taking place that may have an impact on your colleague’s wellbeing, such as fasting during Ramadan.
Starting the wellbeing conversation
A great way to start the conversation is by simply asking ‘how are you?’ and allowing your colleague time to reflect and respond.
- Actively listen to their response and allow the conversation to flow.
- Where needed, follow up with further open questions such as “how are you, really?”, “is there anything that is currently having an impact on your health and wellbeing?” or “how can I best support you?”.
- Remember that some colleagues may not feel comfortable talking about their personal health, and it is important that as a line manager, you reassure them that this is ok.
Key skills for wellbeing conversations
One of the most important skills that you will need in order to facilitate an effective and supportive wellbeing conversation is listening – empathic and active listening.
- Attending – paying attention to your colleagues and “listening with fascination”
- Understanding – sharing an understanding of what they are going through
- Empathising where relevant
- Helping – taking action to signposting to support.
- Let your colleague lead the conversation and focus on the most important things to them.
If you would like to learn more, why not join us at 12:00-12:30pm, Friday 24 February on Emotional Health Day for a bitesize webinar on ‘How to have Effective Wellbeing Conversations’.