Checking in on your Mates

Let’s be real here – there are going to be some days when things just don’t seem to go your way. No matter how perfectly the schedule is laid out, or how meticulous you’ve been with the planning, things are likely to go off track at some point. 

The big question is, what do you do when the going gets tough?  We (Humans) are not designed to cope with continuous high levels of pressure and stress, so when the wheels start to fall, we can feel like we are falling also.  And as much as we may know everything we should be doing to keep ourselves happy and healthy, when the going gets tough, it can all be so much easier said than done.

How we look out for each other, and look after each other, during the tough times is key.  Keeping a watchful eye on your team members is crucial to recognising when someone is struggling and needs some extra support.  When we struggle, we often withdraw, feeling like everyone around us has their lives sorted, and we are the only ones who feel like they are falling apart.  Actually, the opposite is most often true.  Everyone has times when they struggle – we just aren’t good at showing it, or talking about it.  We tend to show everyone our ‘best self’, and hide how we are really feeling, or what we are really going through. 

So, how do you tell when someone is suffering from mental distress?  The most common signs are; when they have lost the will to please others; when they lack enthusiasm for things they would normally get excited about; when they’ve lost their motivation and drive; when they are withdrawing from others and acting out of character.

‘A problem shared, is a problem halved’

If you have noticed a change in someone’s behaviour, then the chances are they need your support.  Follow these steps to check in with them and make sure they’re ok:

  1. Choose a time when you are both free to chat comfortably and ask them how they are feeling, and how long they have been feeling this way.
  2. Then listen, listen, listen.  Wait patiently for them to speak and give them the time and space to really talk without interruption. In this case, silence is OK to give them time to gather their thoughts.
  3. Be genuine and empathetic – they don’t have these feelings because they are weak, they have these feelings because they are trying to cope with an extremely stressful situation.  Put yourself in their shoes and listen to them as a compassionate friend, without judging.
  4. Avoid saying things like ‘I understand exactly how you’re feeling’ and instead replace this with ‘I can appreciate the difficulty you are going through’.
  5. Give the person hope for recovery.  What they are dealing with is most often temporary, so even if they can’t see a clear way through it right now, things will change and improve.  Having hope is a critical part of their recovery process.
  6. Show them that you care – it is more important for you to be genuinely caring than it is for you to say the right things. 
  7. Offer them praise – remind them of the things they are really good at, tell them what they mean to you, and to others, and how important they are.
  8. Encourage them to consider seeking help from other supportive people available to them – family, friends, workmates, support groups and professional helplines.  

For more information on supporting yourself and others in tough times, join our Positive Mindset Challenge at

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