Supporting someone in the workplace with mental ill health

With research suggesting that mental illness affects up to half of all autistic people at some point in their life, there will be a need, and a want, to support your colleagues in the workplace. Whether this is a team member, buddy, mentor or friend, this blog gives general advice on what I have seen to be useful when supporting an autistic person through mental illness.

As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, these are also tips that I have found to appreciate.

Do bear in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive, and that everyone is an individual with differing needs. But you know that!

Also, this blog assumes that the person is OK enough to be at work and that you are not a line manager supporting the person – though of course some of the tips may be universally applicable.

Firstly, be honest and transparent with the person: if you want to support someone struggling with their mental health but aren’t quite sure how to go about this, just tell them so. Don’t sit there fretting about ‘getting it right’ (spoiler: there’s no right way). There’s honestly no shame in admitting this, and I’m sure you’ll be further respected by stating so, and asking how the person would best like to be supported. Moreover, ask the person to let you know if you are saying or doing something that is not helpful. This allows true connection to take place and starts the relationship of support from a place of true authenticity.