You may spend a lot of time with your workmates. This puts you in a good position to notice changes in someone's behaviour or mood, which may indicate that they are not coping. Have you noticed signs that a workmate is behaving differently? Maybe missing deadlines or getting frustrated with tasks or people. By checking in with them and asking if they are OK, you could help your workmate open up and can show them that you care and are there to help.

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Know the signs

If you’re concerned about someone at work, learning about the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression may help you understand what is going on for them, and give you more confidence to ask if they are ok. It’s important not to make assumptions or attempt to provide a diagnosis or counselling – but if you are genuinely concerned about someone you can encourage them to seek support and let them know you’re there to help. 

Start a conversation

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Try having a conversation about what’s troubling a colleague by asking questions and listening.  Offer care and support, and reassure them that you want to support and treat them fairly while respecting their privacy.

Drugs and alcohol

Some people with depression and/or anxiety can also develop problems with drugs and alcohol. Your organisation is likely to have policies in place to deal with misuse of alcohol or recreational drugs, but you could try approaching them about it first. Tell them you have noticed a problem and offer your support, but let them know substance use at work is not accepted and that they need to seek treatment if they can’t stop.

Suicide prevention

If you’re concerned about someone and their possible suicidal thoughts or intentions, it is important to give support and assist them in getting help. Ask them directly how they’re feeling and about their thoughts. Always follow your gut feeling and seek guidance if you are unsure about someone’s personal safety.

Available support pathways

If you’re worried about a workmate, there's a range of resources you can refer them to.

Useful contacts include:

  • Lifeline - 13 11 14 - for crisis support and suicide prevention.
  • Beyond Blue’s Support Service – 1300 22 4636 – for information and advice on depression, anxiety and related conditions, available treatments and where to get help. The information line is not a counselling or crisis line. 
  • Beyond Blue resources, including fact sheets, booklets and brochures. These resources can be ordered online via our website catalogue
  • Beyond Blue website, for information on depression, anxiety and suicide prevention, available treatments and where to get help
  • SANE Australia’s website and helpline – 1800 18 SANE (7623) – provides information about symptoms, treatments, medications, where to go for support and help for carers. 
  • If you work in a larger organisation, your workplace’s human resources managers and internal support services, such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • R U OK?