Your peers understand the daily challenges and frustrations of the profession and are able to lend support in tough times — and sometimes your peers will need your support through their own challenges. Peer support offers you a shared perspective with a skilled response, because connecting with those who truly understand what you’re dealing with can make a world of difference.
Health care professionals depend on each other at work, and this teamwork approach can carry over to supporting each other as well. If you notice that one of your coworkers seems to be struggling, it can be difficult to know if and how you should offer help. Keep in mind that though it can feel awkward or uncomfortable, you shouldn’t ignore the fact that your peer may need help. Begin with a simple conversation and acknowledging that they seem to be having a tough time. Use these conversation starters to help support a peer who may be struggling:
- Hey, I noticed you haven’t been joking around as much as usual. Are you doing ok?
- I know you’ve been under a lot of stress lately. It seems like you’re overwhelmed. I’ve been there, so if you want to talk about it, I’m here to listen.
- We’ve had some rough shifts lately. Have you been doing alright?
- I’ve noticed you’re drinking a lot more than normal. You ok? Want to meet up for coffee and talk?
If your peer is not comfortable talking or seems unreceptive to your questions or concerns, don’t force the conversation — but do let them know you care, and that you’re available if and when they are ready to talk. For a great list of peer support resources, visit https://nami.org/Your-Journey/Frontline-Professionals/Health-Care-Professionals/Peer-Support-Resources