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Does work have you feeling depressed?

Posted by Phil Owens
Phil Owens
Philip is one of Australia’s leading performance and leadership specialists. He
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 in Leadership

I read yesterday that the 6th of January is the most depressing day of the year for Australians, because it is when most people start back at work after the Christmas break.

I don't know how true this is - I hope people actually enjoy their jobs - but it reminds me of the impact that depression has in our lives, including at work.

Depression has a massive impact upon workplaces, and although people might feel ‘depressed’ that they have to go back to work, Depression can cost businesses billions of dollars in lost revenue and performance.  In fact, mild depression accounts for over 60% of the burden of depression in the workplace.

Depressed people in the workplace can appear ‘difficult’ to deal with.  Managers are rarely specifically trained to understand or support workers with depression, co-workers are fearful or unsure of how to help (or the ramifications of getting involved) and it can often lead to ‘toxic worker’ syndrome:  Everyone knows that a particular member of the team is difficult to be around, everyone avoids them where possible, and it creates an unhelpful atmosphere for the person concerned, as well as everyone else in the organisation.

Depression is just not well understood, or supported in the workplace.

At any one time however, 20% of people are suffering ‘depression’.  It is a common condition in leaders, not just in the rank and file.  It is highly prevalent, yet poorly managed or understood - and having a massive impact.

Consider a person with depression.  If we were to ask them, they would often describe their thinking as “I always think about the past – which was really bad. I know that my future will be no different, so I am helpless and hopeless.  I may as well withdraw and surrender, rather than try and fight the inevitable”.  This is one of the most common perceptions described by people with depression.

How would you approach life, relationships or your career if that was your thinking pattern?

The good news is that people with depression get better.  Sometimes they are stuck in their thinking pattern and push people away, which makes helping them even more difficult.  This social isolation builds their feeling of hopelessness and can make them less likely to seek help as well.

What can you do?

  • ·         First, realise that depression is a real and significant burden on the person and everyone around them.  It is OK, and they can get better, but at the moment they are ‘stuck’.
  • ·         If you think you are depressed, reach out and get help (more on this in a minute).
  • ·         If you think someone is depressed, ask “Are you OK?”
  • ·         Connect yourself (or the person) to resources, such as Lifeline www.lifeline.org.au (13 11 14) or organisations like Beyond Blue www.beyondblue.org.au  or qualified therapists such as www.reflectiveresolutions.com.  Get them to their GP, to the staff counsellor or psychologist.
  • ·         Have open conversations in the workplace about mental health.  Being aware and knowing that there are courses of action that can be taken can help people to intervene early.  It also lowers the fear barrier of other workers and allows greater help to be available.

 

 

 

 

 

Depression is a serious condition that can be rapidly treated.  It has a serious impact on the lives of individuals, their families and co-workers.   Regardless of what day it is, pay attention to how people are and go first – ask ‘Are you OK?’ and make a real difference.

Philip is one of Australia’s leading performance and leadership specialists. He honed his skills working with executives and leaders around the world, coaching and consulting in over 30 countries, from entrepreneurial start-ups to boards of multi-billion dollar businesses.

Comments

Guest
Leigh Goucher Thursday, 09 January 2014

Great work Phil

I enjoyed reading your article and there are some pertinent points that we can all take from it.

Best Wishes for a great 2014.

Regards

Leigh

Phil Owens
Phil Owens
Philip is one of Australia’s leading performance and leadership specialists. He
User is currently offline
Phil Owens Thursday, 09 January 2014

RE:Great work Phil

Thanks, Leigh,

And happy new year to you!

Depression will become an even more pressing issue for business, so I'm glad there were some things here of value that can put you 'in front of the curve' in dealing with it.

All the best,
Phil.

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