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Do you know how to ask for help?

In the aftermath of the pandemic, there have been more conversations around mental health than ever. Our understanding of mental and emotional health and wellbeing has improved, but why does it still feel so hard to ask for help when we’re struggling?

Common reasons why we suffer in silence

Even though so much good work has been done to normalise mental health at work, many employees are still nervous about disclosing mental health issues. Research carried about by the recruitment agency Reed found that over half of UK employees do not feel comfortable disclosing mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression in the workplace.


Of 2000 respondents to the survey, 39% said they feared they would be judged negatively if they opened up about their mental health. 36% said they would feel too exposed and vulnerable. 

Other common reasons why we don’t reach out for help are:

  • A fear of seeming weak or incompetent if others know that we are struggling.
  • A workplace culture where there is no room for anyone who is struggling – the focus is always on being there and pushing through, no matter how you feel.
  • Believing you can handle everything yourself and you ‘should’ be able to cope with whatever is thrown at you.
  • Not wanting to be a ‘burden’ to others.
  • Not knowing how to ask for help, who to ask, or even what kind of help we need.
  • A lack of trust that any help they do get will be effective and confidential.

While all of these reasons are understandable, they can prevent those of us who are struggling from getting the support we need. Asking for help is far from a sign of weakness. It takes courage to admit that we are struggling, and seeking help is an act of self-care.

Good things happen when we ask for help

Even though asking for help can feel hard, good things happen when we do.

It stops us feeling stuck-If we are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and stuck in a negative cycle, reaching out can help us get the support we need to make positive changes and start moving forward.

It reduces feelings of isolation-when we are struggling it can be incredibly isolating. Sharing how we are feeling with someone else can help us feel not only more connected, but like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

It helps us recognise when we need professional help-talking to someone about what we are struggling with can help us realise when we need more than informal help. Sometimes we are the last one to know how bad things have become.

Where to turn for help

The longer we wait to ask for help, the more pervasive mental health struggles can get and they’ll affect everything from our work performance to our relationships, and our health.

If you have been struggling at work, reach out to a trusted colleague who might be able to support you to talk to your manager or HR department. Request to meet your manager or someone from HR privately and try to think about what you want to say in advance.

You could discuss any adjustments that may make work feel easier like flexible working. You may also be signposted to talking therapies if your organisation uses a therapy service, or you can always self-refer.

Why talking therapies?

Trained and experienced therapists can help with a wide range of mental health and wellbeing issues, and therapy sessions are a safe and non-judgemental space in which to explore what’s going on. Your therapist will work with you to give you the tools and knowledge you need to process difficult feelings and emotions and move forward.

Whether you need to process a traumatic life event like the death of a loved one, or you want to understand yourself better and figure out how issues from the past might be affecting you now, or to develop health coping strategies,  the therapy room is a safe place to do it.

At Talk Works, we work alongside HR Teams, Occupational Health, and Line Managers nationwide to help employees work well, feel well and engage well at work. Click here to find out more about what we can do to support individuals and organisations.


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