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There is no ‘I’ in team: how to support coworkers through their mental health struggles

02 March 2023
Volume 12 · Issue 2


We cannot pick who we work with, but like it or not, we spend a considerable amount of time with our coworkers and are often in a better position to notice changes in their wellbeing than members of their own family. Claire Hool explains how employers and fellow employees can spot signs and support their staff members through any mental health struggles

It is estimated that the average person spends 3515 days at work in their lifetime. This calculates to be roughly 1795 hours a year based on a 34.5 hour working week and 84 365 hours over a lifetime. These figures, however, do not take into account overtime hours or a commute, so in reality, these numbers are much higher. It is a remarkable amount of time for us to spend at work, as well as a long time to spend with our colleagues. If this number is broken down further, during the course of a day, a person sleeps on average for 8 hours and works for eight, leaving another 8 for recreation. These recreational hours, however, get divided up into day-to-day chores, commuting to and from work, cooking, shopping, childcare and whatever else is left to fit into a day. Out of a 24-hour-period, those 8 hours spent at work are the longest amount of time we spend awake and with the same group of people. We actually spend more time with our coworkers than we do our own families. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2017), at any given time, one in six people of the working age population of Britain experience symptoms associated with mental ill health. Though we do not get to choose our colleagues, and they certainly are not selected on the basis of friendship and compatibility, the time we all spend together at work actually puts us in the perfect position to spot signs of mental ill health among our team members.

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