In the workplace and in our home environments, we see and can potentially talk with people experiencing distress.

Distress can be from stress that has been ignored or not seen as stress or it could be because of an issue that has occurred. Distress often shows up as unpleasant emotions, feelings, unhelpful thoughts and/or behaviours.

Distress can often be mistaken for illness; my headaches are because of the extra work I’m doing, or I feel run down and not coping as well because its winter or the I’m feeling tired all the time, can be from feeling overwhelmed. All these issues could be caused by a mental health issue such as anxiety or depression. Leaving these symptoms unchecked will show up in other ways such as unpleasant emotions (sad), feeling (unloved), unhelpful thoughts (I should be able to cope) and/or behaviours (lashing out or withdrawing).

When someone is doing it tough you do not have to be perfect words, they just have to be words to show that you care for the person and what might be happening for them. Try not to react to what is being said, rather respond to the person in front of you who is in this situation.

Ask –

How are you travelling? Or What’s been happening for you? You might even what you have notice for example, “I have noticed you seem angry/withdrawn lately?”

Listen –

Do not try and fix it, your job is to just really listen to them. Keep what they say private unless you have their permission to talk to someone, like a parent, partner or service. Be open-minded about what they are saying and try not to judge what you are hearing, just hear it. This is especially important in a work environment because you are trying to help them so they can get back to work but at the same time their distress may be long term and they need greater individual support. At this point it may be helpful here to refer your personal counselling without making it a ‘fix’ the problem type of outcome.

Support –

Let them know you care for them. Support them to explore options about who or what could be of help to them.

Follow up –

Reach out again in a few days after your conversation and check in on how they are traveling. They may not have done anything yet and that is okay. Just let them know you are there and ready to chat again should they need that.

Lastly, make sure you remain okay.

When you support people, you might find you need some support yourself. Make sure you do the things that help keep you balanced. If you are finding that difficult as a friend or business owner find support that strengthens you in that role.

If you would like to talk further about resources, services or education that may be of benefit please reach out. Tanya Fisher from Redcliffe Employee Wellness Services in junction with Redcliffe Counselling 0487 844 603.

Some Services that may be helpful:
Beyond Blue is 24/7 1300 224 636 or Supporting people to discuss life issues. The New Access program can be beneficial for people dealing with distress in their lives.
Head Space Redcliffe 3889 1897 (supporting ages 12-25)
Redcliffe Safe Space – 440 Oxley Avenue, Redcliffe (on the corner, next to the Skate Park) 0435 827 817.
This area is open Mon – Fri, 5.00 pm – 9.00 pm Sat & Sun, 3.00 pm – 7.00 pm. You might find it helpful to take the person to this safe environment to sit with them or to find support as they are there.
The Suicide Call Back Service1300 659 467 available 24/7 for people feeling suicidal or affected by suicide.
1800 Respect 1800 737 732 – 24/7 support around sexual assault, family & domestic violence.

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