Worries, just like fatigue, can distract people at work or at home, making accidents and near-misses more likely. People may worry when they have a lot on their mind or when they are facing difficult or stressful times – whether it’s a one-off situation or ongoing and uncertain. Mental health conditions such as anxiety can add to worries, making things seem worse than they are or unmanageable.
If you or someone you know is feeling low, a chat with a friend or colleague can help to lift your mood. Someone really listening to how you feel and what’s worrying you, and what you are going through, could make you feel better. Even when you can’t meet a friend face to face, calling them or chatting online – maybe with video – helps you stay connected. If you would like to speak to a specialist, your employer might offer an employee assistance programme (EAP) for help with practical or emotional issues – whether about family, relationships, debt, work, wellbeing or anything else. There might also be an Occupational Health (OH) team in your workplace to offer health and wellbeing assistance – your line manager or HR department can give you details. When you are worried about your mental or physical health, your local GP is there to help you. Or for mental health concerns – including low mood, burnout or stress – you can pick up the phone and speak with an independent service such as Samaritans, the Mind Infoline or SANE line (see 'Useful contacts' below).
It is also possible to refer yourself to the NHS Improved Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service without seeing your GP (see 'Useful contacts' below). Speaking to your line manager or another responsible person in your workplace could help solve problems that are making you worry at work or identify ways to make things better. And if you don’t want to do that, you can also contact CIRAS confidentially if you are concerned about health, wellbeing or safety at work – whether it’s for yourself or for others, such as co-workers or the public. You can even speak to CIRAS if your concern is about a company you don't work for. Whether you are worried about yourself or someone else, reaching out and getting help can allow you to be in the moment, focused and safer.
If you would like to support someone, you can use the RAILS model to give yourself the confidence to do it:
Check in with yourself first. If a situation seems challenging, taking a few deep breaths can make a big difference before you decide to approach someone.
Plan the best way to approach the person you are concerned about. Assess the situation as best you can.
Be sensitive because it may be difficult for them to talk.
Watch for signs that they may be experiencing a crisis situation: alcohol or substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and behaviours, panic attacks, aggressive behaviour, trauma after an incident, psychotic states and medical emergencies.
Ask the other person how they are feeling.
You may have noticed that they are behaving differently from usual, fatigued, anxious, stressed, melancholic or depressed.
Empathise and express concern but refrain from giving advice.
Listening works best if you can be non-judgmental. Try to put your judgments aside, treat the person with respect and dignity and keep an open mind. Ask, ‘How long have you been feeling this way?’.
Give them space to tell their story.
The support you provide can be practical and emotional. By being there for someone in crisis, you can give them hope for recovery and help them to recover faster.
Encourage the person to seek appropriate professional support wherever appropriate (see introduction and 'Useful contacts' below).