Workplace depression is one of the most common and overlooked mental health related problems that managers and employers try to avoid dealing with. According to several statistical reports, depression affects more than 8 percent of adults in the US and can cause a loss of billions of dollars. Besides work, this depression can damage their overall quality of life and cause several other mental and physical health issues if left unchecked.
But since 80 percent of people suffering from depression can recover, it is important that employers address it. In fact, employers have the chances of increasing their productivity and decrease the poor quality of work by addressing depression in the workplace.
What I would advise you, as a manager, to keep a close eye on your employees and check in with them from time to time. If you remain proactive about this mental illness throughout the year, it would become much easier to help your employees in times of difficulty. Remember that your employees are the most important asset to your company, so helping them promptly will only prove better for everyone.
I have compiled a list of few tips that can be of guidance to make your workplace more aware and understanding towards depression.
Equip Yourself with Knowledge
The initial step to make your workplace empowered to understand depression is to educate them about the same. Besides making sure that they know what depression is and how it influences different people, equip them with knowledge through which they can identify its symptoms.
You can get help from a professional counselor or a nearby mental health clinic to do so. They can help provide you with resources like brochures, pamphlets, and lectures that can teach your staff different methods to identify symptoms of depression and how to deal with them. Keep in mind that all employees and management need to know about this, so everyone can look out for each other.
Make Resources Available
Simple HR open-door policies which give employees that assurance that there someone is there to talk to them is a step a company of any size can take. In addition to that, you can provide resources like annual depression screenings and referrals like EAP, psychotherapy and, counseling. This way the employees will know that you address their depression as a serious issue and are trying to help them.
Make Use of October 8th
October 8th is National Depression Screening Day, where any citizen can get a free screening for any mental health issue. This way you will be able to create awareness about depression and provide a resource that everyone can benefit from.
Take Steps to Improve your Workplace
Bouts of depression, specifically workplace depression can be easily triggered by several situations at work. Some examples of these situations are overwork, unrealistic expectations, unreliable superiors or subordinates and unpleasant conditions.
In order to ensure pleasant working conditions, make sure that all employees and treated respectfully, without any discrimination. Also, establish a culture where everyone in the workplace feels appreciated and supported both professionally and personally. And make regulations that the employees are given transparency so they can rely on the management’s fairness.
Use Eco-Therapy Techniques
Eco-therapy uses different practices that involve employees interacting with elements of nature and creating an environment conducive to their mental wellbeing. These practices have proven to work in several circumstances and contribute to creating an overall healthier work environment.
Eco-therapy includes techniques like bringing in live plants to the workplace, using full-spectrum lights bulbs to mimic natural light, allowing employees to personalize their workspace and making healthy food available in the office.
Be Proactive but Don’t Diagnose
Being oblivious or ignorant to symptoms of workplace depression affects the company’s performance and employee morale negatively. Without the proper knowledge, you will look at your employees as tardy and not recognize that they are dealing with some serious issues. But you can easily avoid doing that by being proactive. You can follow the tips above to make sure people are aware and able to recognize symptoms.
This way you can talk to your employees early and discuss if they are doing well or are in need of any help. But keep in mind to not diagnose them. Since you are not a trained counselor or psychologist, it’s not your job to tell them what is wrong with them.
Your job is to make sure that your employees are in good health and are progressing. And if you do notice something worrying, have an honest conversation about if they are doing OK and whether they would like some help.