A PROBLEM SHARED
I am worried about my colleague. He’s been turning up late to work, sometimes drunk, and I’ve had to cover for him. I’ve also noticed he’s not his usual self when he’s sober and doesn’t socialise any more.
“It may sound relatively trivial to you but it could be a big d eal for him”
It sounds as if you’re right to be worried. Depending on what you do for a living, turning up drunk could have serious consequences, so he needs to address this as soon as possible.
First, have you tried to talk to him directly? It would be a good idea to bring it up in a calm and considerate way, picking a suitable time and place to start conversation. Sometimes simply making a cuppa and having a friendly chat can help.
Then ask him if he’s OK. You could let him know that you’ve noticed he doesn’t seem his usual self and you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do, and that you’re there if, or when, he wants to talk.
It is important that you listen to what he has to say. Let him speak and give him plenty of time to do so. Acknowledge what he is saying and empathise with him. He may be struggling with something that seems relatively trivial to you, but it could be a big deal for him.
Do not be judgmental and certainly don’t berate him for how he is feeling. It’s also unhelpful to say things like, “I had that once and I did this.” Instead, try: “That must be diff icult/ tough for you” and/ or
“I can understand exactly how you’re feeling.” You could then off er your support, depending on what makes him comfortable.
Does he need a nudge speaking to your employer, or his family, about it? Does he want someone to go to a health- care professional with him, or make an appointment? Or suggest doing something practical just to take the pressure off a bit.
If you have serious concerns, especially if someone is a risk to themselves or to others, then you may have to approach your employer, or a health professional directly. However, it is always better to do this with the knowledge and agreement of the person in question.
I fi nd that people always worry about saying the wrong thing in these sorts of situations but the truth is you’re more likely to help than anything else.
Remember: you are not there to be their therapist.
But you can be a good listener and point them to places that provide advice and guidance, such as Mind, Calm, and the Samaritans.