Everyone plays an important role in creating healthy and respectful work environments.
Download the Orange Folder - A printable guide for assisting colleagues in distress
Recognize signs of distress
In your role as a UBC staff or faculty member, you may be the first person to see signs that a colleague is in distress, or they may come to you specifically for help. Use this guide to familiarize yourself with commons signs of distress, and the steps you can take to offer assistance.
Respond with concern and empathy
It’s okay to be uncertain about how to respond. You don’t need to have all the answers. Being there to support your colleagues is often the most valuable thing that you can do.
- If possible, move to a discrete and appropriate environment.
- Express concern and be specific about the signs and behaviours you’ve noticed (i.e. “I’ve noticed you don’t seem like yourself at work lately.”)
- Listen actively, ask open ended questions, and help them feel heard and understood
- Use this supportive conversation library to find more strategies for having supportive conversations with colleagues, friends and loved ones.
Refer your colleague to available resources
Your role is not to diagnose or treat, but you can share that confidential help is available. Early intervention plays a key role in creating healthy and respectful workplaces.
- Help make them aware of the range of support services available (see below)
If a colleague does not want help:
- Respect their decision. Accepting assistance must be left up to the individual, except in emergencies.
- If they change their mind, they can access resources in the future.
Connect to resources
Managers and supervisors
If you’ve observed concerning changes in behavior that are impacting the workplace, the university may have a legal “duty to inquire.” Before taking any further steps, please contact the appropriate resources for support.
You can also contact UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program for confidential People Manager Consultations: 1-866-424-0770 or explore UBC's Mental Health Tools and Resources for Manager, Heads and Deans.
Concerned about a student? Learn more about how to assist a student in distress.
In need of support for someone who has experienced sexual assault or other forms of sexual violence? Learn more about UBC’s Sexual Violence and Response (SVPRO) office.