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I recently met 1:1 with a business mentor and potential investor whom I've met with twice previously at length and am increasingly friendly with. The previous times he's been mild-mannered, relaxed and deliberate. This time he was speaking rapidly, often not making sense, jittery and distracted.

I'm not an expert but it was so deviant from not just his typical behaviour but any behaviour I've seen before I couldn't help but interpret it as some form of (hypo)mania.

I'm wondering whether I should have said anything or should acknowledge it next time I see him? I took the meeting slowly and tried to calm him down while humouring the more outlandish stuff he was occasionally saying.

He's a married ~40 y/o man and I believe the predominant causes of (hypo)mania (bipolar, schizoaffective disorder, etc) very rarely come on around this age, so I feel it's unlikely he's unaware of it. But in case he is unaware, or maybe just to put him at ease and let him know it's fine and it's not going to affect our personal or professional relationship, perhaps I should gently acknowledge my experience of his behaviour next time I see him? i.e. mention that I found he spoke very rapidly last time and ask if all was okay?

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You've jumped to the conclusion that it's some mental health issue causing manic behaviour based on a single incident - it could equally be a reaction to medication, alcohol or drug abuse, or even just one too many coffee's that morning.

Whatever the cause, addressing it is only going to cause tension and put him in an uncomfortable position of feeling like he has to explain his behaviour to a coworker who he doesn't necessarily feel close enough to confide in. If all you want to tell him is that it's fine and not going to affect your relationship, then why mention it at all?

  • Sorry for not being clear but I'm not assuming it isn't a reaction to medication. Regardless of cause I'm wondering what the most helpful thing to do is – if the roles were reversed I'd appreciate him acknowledging it with me but I realise that everyone is different. – Max Dec 12 '18 at 12:27
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Assuming you aren't a mental health professional I'd avoid trying to diagnose colleagues' potential mental health issues.

That said you mention that this person is a mentor and that you have a friendly rapport so there's nothing wrong with showing general concern.

Next time you see him you could ask him if he's okay:

Hey [mentor], I don't want to pry but is everything okay? You just seemed a bit out of sorts last time we met and I was a bit worried for you.

That's not too intrusive and gives them the option to talk to you human being to human being if they choose to. Obviously the above assumes they are more like themselves next time you see them. If they are still displaying this behavior you can adapt the wording accordingly.

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