What to Do
It's important to intervene when you are concerned that a person may be in distress. The following strategies are useful to consider when deciding how to approach your colleague:
- Stay calm: If you are able to remain calm, it is more likely that the person will respond calmly.
- Speak with your colleague privately: These are sensitive issues, and it's important to protect the colleague's confidentiality.
- Express concern: Let the person know what you are seeing that is concerning to you. Express your positive regard and desire for him or her to be successful.
- Be accepting and non-judgmental: Help your colleague determine what the problem might be, without minimizing feelings or judging him or her for feeling distressed.
- Offer support: Listen without trying to diagnose or solve the problem. Ask what you can do to help.
- Encourage your colleague to seek help: Let your co-worker know that there are services available such as FASAP which is free and confidential.
Know your limits as a helper: Intervening with a colleague in crisis can be stressful and draining. It's important to make sure that you and the colleague you are trying to help receive support. The following are important components of self-care in difficult situations:
- Maintain your professional boundaries to prevent creating a dependency or sending the wrong message. This includes being cautious to engage in after-hours communications and social media.
- Do not take on the role of therapist.
- Do not tolerate rude behavior.
- Look for other sources of help and support so that you are not the only one.
- Do not ignore warning signs.
When in doubt, consult. FASAP provides consultation services to faculty and staff regarding how to handle difficult situations. You can call 443-997-7000 to talk with a clinician about your concerns about a co-worker and to get advice on how to proceed.