Hello I am Dr. David Bull. Depression is a major issue in the workplace. By some estimates it costs American businesses tens of billions of dollars every year.
Well that topic is on the table and here to share their insights are Dr. Randy Martin who is a Psychologist and Workforce Consultant with more than 25 years of experience,
and Susan Downstone who is an award winning Physiotherapist, Author and Mental Health advocate. So Dr. Martin, how big a problem is this?
It's a huge problem worldwide. In America they estimate that the depression causes $43-$70 billion worth of lost business. It's extremely common. It really is the common cold of psychopathologies.
And yet it's not something we talk about, and certainly not talk about openly.
It's something that people feel ashamed to talk about. They don't want to confess it to their employer and they don't want to discuss it at work,
because it's something that they may feel may threaten their job or may threaten their security, so they don't want to do that.
How does it manifest itself. What sort of symptoms do people have?
I mean, it's one thing isn't it being miserable, not wanting to go to work, feeling a bit upset when the weather is bad. But how does true depression manifest itself?
General lethargic, feeling fatigued and just feeling unable to really move yourself and get active and get to work. So, first of all they won't be at work.
Second of all, they will be late for work sometimes. When they are at work, they may display presenteeism.
Presenteeism is a term used in employee assistance field in social psychology. That means that the person is really not able to function at work effectively.
So can you tell me they are actually there for longer, but actually not being effective.
If they do get some work, they are not as effective as they could be.
I love the concept of Presenteeism, where someone is there in body but not in spirit.
And, if you are in a managerial role, you can imagine the ripple effect downward and then upward, they are unaware of why there are problems or issues in that department.
So let's say that someone then realizes they may well be depressed:
What sort of responsibility do you think the employee has to deal with it before it becomes a real problem, before it impacts on their performance in the business?
I think, the employee does have responsibility, and they can take advantage of whatever benefits are available to them through their workplace.
Employee Assistance Program is an excellent way to go, if you have one available to you. Not everyone does. But, many people do, and they are not even aware of it.
That's an important point that you mentioned that they are not aware of that.
So, employers even who have these programs need to do a better job of letting their employees know at orientation that this kind of help is available.
What sort of steps can businesses and employers take to try to optimize the health of their staff?
Well, first they can make their employees aware that they have these programs and offer them easy access to these programs in a way that won't make the employee feel bad,
that encourages usage of services for which they are paid.
How do they spot them in the first place?
I think managers need to be trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression, but also need to learn how to manage effectively employees and performance problems.
And those two things go hand in hand. You don't want to go into the details of their personal problems, but you do want to say, the EAP is available to you,
and we can help you get some help and deal with those personal problems so that you get back to work and be productive again.
I think the other way that your programs are so invaluable is also going in the other direction. If there are management practices that are punitive
or the workplace environment is not conducive to wellness, that if you're beginning to see a pattern among employees that you're seeing from a specific company,
you can approach them about how they could improve the environment at their company. Such as Wellness Programs, I think you can speak to that.
I really think Wellness Programs are a great way for company to give their employees support
and to foster the kinds of things that are important bedrocks for avoiding depression or coping with depression.
So the take home message here is it is common. If you have a problem you need to recognize it. You need to seek help. There is lots of help available out there.
There is no shame in this and really if you do that, then you'll find the support, you will find the help out there.
Fantastic stuff! Thank you very much indeed for your fantastic pertinent comments and thank you for joining us here for Depression Insights.