Recently "A-san," your ever reliable and punctual colleague, has started to drop the ball; she makes small mistakes, arrives late to meetings, or misses them all together. It’s creating extra work for you and makes interacting with her awkward, but no one wants to address her sudden flakiness. Finally, fed up, you pull her aside: “A-san, get your act together!”

Before you get there, take a moment.

Dealing with mental health issues among your friends or loved ones can be painful, uncomfortable and draining. But at work, mental health conditions come with additional challenges: The very things you need from your coworker — productivity and cooperation — are suddenly out of reach, but pushing them to perform harder is likely to exacerbate any problems they have. That’s true of any kind of illness in a work setting, but it takes special care and attention to recognize and respond to mental health problems in Japan, where stigma and misinformation remain strong.