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When Should You Be Asking If Your Colleagues Are Okay?

Starting a conversation about mental health is never easy with the people that you love, let alone those who might be working alongside you. As a majority of your time throughout the week is spent alongside your colleagues, you may be in a position to notice when things are going amiss for them.

On 9 September is R U OK Day, which was designed to breach the stigma of mental health discussion in the workplace.

Beginning that conversation with your colleagues and your team about mental health does not have to be restricted to a single day. Rather, continuing the discussion beyond that time and allowing your colleagues to feel safe within the workplace to speak about their mental health can benefit everyone in the long run.

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, employers must protect the mental and physical wellbeing of their employees.

That’s why it’s important that your employers, as well as you, should be on the lookout for signs that your colleagues and coworkers may be struggling with their mental health.

Sometimes, the way in which mental health is impacting a colleague can be a silent debilitation, but here are some of the signs that you can watch out for:

  • Grooming and appearance may have been neglected, or the colleague may not appear as put together as usual over a prolonged period.
  • Appear more tired and fatigued at work, and are struggling to complete tasks.
  • Are suffering from severe and significant changes in their mood ie. react more emotionally than the situation may warrant.
  • Appear to be overwhelmed by tasks that they had previously found manageable.

If these signs are present in a colleague, it may be the time to begin a conversation with them about if they are currently experiencing an impact on their mental health. Checking in on your colleagues is now more important than ever in these uncertain times.

Starting the conversation about mental health should take into account the time and place. Here are some tips for encouraging and promoting discussion about mental health between colleagues in the workplace and encourage reaching out.

  • Actively listening to your colleagues when they reach out and open up to you for help in resolving the matter will make them feel heard. It might not necessarily be something that you can assist with, but you can help them verbalise what might be impacting on them.
  • If they don’t wish to discuss it with you, don’t take it personally. Mental health can be a deeply personal subject that some won’t feel comfortable discussing with their colleagues. You can however prompt them to discuss it with someone they trust.
  • Ask them the following questions to see if you can help them visualise a strategy forwards in dealing with an issue at hand
  • Give them options to help them out of the situation – an employee assistance program (EAP) may be of assistance to them in this matter.
  • Encourage them to engage with professionals in mental health if they are experiencing a significant impact. There is only so much that you will be able to help your colleagues with, and that’s okay.

Mental health is slowly becoming a more discussable topic in the workplace, but there might be a number of factors that impact how a person is able to reach out to others. By promoting open and healthy communication, you can help your colleagues make mental health an approachable discussion in the workplace.

If you are concerned about anyone in the workplace, or this has raised some concerns for your own mental health, there is a professional helpline that can be contacted at any time on 13 11 14 for further information or simply for a friendly voice to talk to.

If you’re someone who often finds it difficult to make large lump sum payments for goods or services, you may want to consider looking into “Buy Now Pay Later” services.

Buy now pay later essentially means that, rather than paying in a full lump sum payment for a product or services rendered, there may be an option to pay through instalments of a certain amount over a set period to make the sum of the full amount in total. This method should allow you to pay in full for the product or service without overly straining your finances – you pay back what you can, as agreed upon when you begin the buy now pay later service.

Some popular buy now pay later services include Afterpay, Zip Pay, Brightepay, and some credit card networks such as  Mastercard and Visa, can offer buy now pay later arrangements.

Though it can be a convenient, immediate solution, it may be challenging to juggle the necessary repayments with other financial commitments. It’s not always the most appropriate method for people, and you should bear in mind your situation and ability in paying back the amounts. 

Before you sign up, keep in mind: 

  • It becomes easier to overspend with buy now pay later services, so know your limits on what you can and can’t afford.
  • You will be charged fees and costs to use the service, which can add up to a princely sum in and of itself.
  • Keeping track of your payments can be tricky if you’ve signed up for multiple services.
  • It could affect your loan applications for a car or mortgage as lenders consider buy now pay later spending just as much as your credit score.
  • Late repayments can appear on your credit report, which affects your ability to borrow money in the future.
  • Layby can be a cheaper alternative to buy now pay later, with no account-keeping or late fees to consider

If you are someone who could make use of BNPL services, you may wish to:

  • Ensure that when using the BNPL service, you stick to a set limit on what you spend so that you can comfortably pay it back later. 
  • Aim only to have one BNPL account at a time to manage payments through, rather than confuse yourself with multiple payments across different providers.
  • Always budget for bills, loan payments and BNPL payments, and 
  • Rather than use your credit card for payments to your BNPL account, consider linking to your debit account instead.

If you would like assistance in planning your financial future, help in managing your budget or some friendly advice, see us for a chat about what we can do for you.


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John Briggs

Jane Noller has been my accountant for the last 15 plus years. I can testify to Jane’s professionalism and expeditious manner in dealing with the day to day issues that surrounds our business accounting.

John Briggs

Registered Building Certifier