Depression, Work and You

With around one in ten people in the workplace liable to suffer from a mental or emotional disorder during their lifetimes, everyone needs to be aware of the signs and symptoms that someone may need some help. Managers and HR practitioners need to be confident in dealing with potential issues or at least have contacts they can call upon for such eventualities.

This article from Forbes raises two issues that warrant further comment. The first is the question of what should and does happen with workplace assessments or surveys that flag serious problems with an individual. In this case, the individual was highly stressed to the point of risking harm to themselves or others. Little was done. The writer took themselves to a counsellor for help. The second issue was that the counsellor was of little use for them. While we only have the writer’s assessment to go on, it shows that a person facing a serious problem with stress had little assistance from their workplace to help them deal with it. The writer finally sank into severe depression.

Research from Canada a couple of years ago suggested that people who are in an undesirable work position can manage two years before risking serious emotional difficulties as a result, and this was the case with this writer. The author also talked about how people who are having trouble coping with a mental health issue will attempt to hide it. This is supported by research from Australia’s National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) which concluded that students with mental health issues will raise it when they are near to losing their ability to cope with it.

Employers and HR practitioners need to be aware of the warning signs of mental or emotional problems in workers, and be prepared to assist quickly, decisively and confidently when problems are brought to their attention.