Framework for supportive conversations
18 May 2022

The Framework for Supportive Conversations

The Framework for Supportive Conversations

If a colleague, team member or indeed a friend or loved one is struggling with their mental health or has a personal life issue or crisis that they have disclosed to us, we can easily be drawn into those conversations and find ourselves offering advice, trying to fix them or rescue their situation, or perhaps we become overly involved in their issues, or end up giving them anecdotes about our own experiences in the hope that it will somehow be supportive for them.

But the truth is, none of these things are actually helpful to someone who is struggling with their mental health or a personal life crisis. Giving advice, trying to fix or rescue or self-disclosing our own issues is more likely to be damaging, disempowering and not really what the other person wants or needs. Especially within the workplace, where the added dimension of hierarchies can come in to play and fears of delayed career progression can be an actual or perceived danger for someone who discloses mental health issues.

So how should we navigate supportive conversations in a psychologically safe way? What are the right and wrong things to say and do if someone discloses to us that they have a mental health issue, is struggling, or is in crisis or distress?

The Framework for Supportive Conversations is Wellbeing Partners’ easy to understand, simple to follow “conversation map” that provides clear boundaries and skills for holding any type of discussion around mental health, distress, crisis or personal life issues, or even emotionally charged conversations around work matters.

The Framework for Supportive Conversation provides clear guidance around what to say, what not to say, key questions to ask, and explains how to navigate these conversations successfully and skilfully so that they remain appropriate and helpful, and lead to appropriate support where required. The Framework gives clear guidance so that no-one becomes “enmeshed”, makes unhelpful comments, provides unqualified advice or gets overly-involved in colleagues’ or team members’ mental health issues or personal life difficulties.

The Framework for Supportive Conversations is one of the core elements of many of our short training courses, including Mental Health Training for Managers (2 hours), our Wellbeing for HR Course (90 minutes), and our Talking Mental Health Course for all employees (90 minutes).

The Framework provides the boundaries for supportive conversations, and includes:

  • Preparing for a supportive conversation – Where, For How Long, and When
  • How to Initiative a supportive conversation, simply and safely
  • Listening Skills – less is more
  • Validating – not advising or rescuing
  • Explore – key questions to ask
  • How and where to signpost for further support if appropriate
  • Closing the conversation – simply and skilfully

The training includes practical activities and exercises and all delegates come away feeling confident and relieved at the simplicity of holding a supportive conversation, and knowing the skills for navigating these often difficult discussions.

Please get in touch if you would like to know more about the Framework for Supportive Conversations, Mental Health Training for Managers, Wellbeing for HR or Talking Mental Health for all employees.

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