The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises World Mental Health Day on 10th October every year. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is mental health in the workplace.
The impact of depression in the workplace is evident in two ways. Presenteeism, in which an employee is at work, but not engaged, or productive. Absenteeism, referring to an employee’s days away from work.
Research has found that treatment of depression results in a 40-60 percent reduction in absenteeism and/or presenteeism. Because of this, it is important for employers to be trained appropriately to identify the signs of depression and pre-emptively address it.
What Depression Feels Like
- Deep feelings of sadness, worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
- Loss of interest in work or social activities
- Difficulty concentrating, slowed thoughts
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, energy loss or fatigue
- Irritability, anger or tearfulness
How it Looks to Co-Workers
- Withdrawal from team, isolates oneself, change in appearance
- Putting things off, missed deadlines, accidents
- Seems “scattered” or absentminded
- Procrastination, indecisiveness, indifference
- Unsure of abilities, lack of confidence
- Inappropriate reactions, strained relationships
What does a mental health-friendly workplace look like?
Businesses that value the health of their employees, including their mental health and wellbeing, have specific practices and policies in place. Such companies can be small, medium, or large. Outstanding examples are found amongst large corporations, however, businesses with only a few employees also have found meaningful and innovative ways to be mental health-friendly.
The mental health-friendly workplace
- Welcomes all qualified job applicants; diversity is valued. Includes health care that treats mental illnesses with the same urgency as physical illnesses.
- Provides training for managers and front-line supervisors in mental health workplace issues, including identification of performance problems that may indicate worker distress and possible need for referral and evaluation.
- Provides an Employee Assistance Program or other appropriate referral resources to assist managers and employees. Has programs and practices that promote and support employee health-wellness and/or work-life balance.
- Provides all-employee communication regarding equal opportunity health and wellness programs, and similar topics that promote an accepting, anti-stigmatizing, antidiscrimination climate in the workplace.
Tea & Talk: A national fundraising event which takes place on World Mental Health Day each year. All you have to do is get together a group of friends, family or colleagues, put the kettle on and invite them to make a donation to the Mental Health Foundation. Please visit the Mental Health Foundation website to request your free work fundraising pack to host your own event.