What we show on the outside isn’t always what’s happening on the inside. As
we globally mourn the recent deaths of fashion icon and designer Kate Spade
and now the loss of celebrity chef and trailblazer Anthony Bourdain, two
seemingly unstoppable individuals who each revolutionized their given industries,
this has never been more apparent. Like the geode, we may appear solid as a
rock on the outside, but, when broken, we realize that there are so many fragile,
complicated and beautiful pieces that comprise each and every one of us.
Many who suffer from depression aren’t brave enough to raise their hands and
seek help, and even if they do, it may well be an ongoing struggle in their lives.
Singer Mariah Carey recently opened up about her personal struggles with Bipolar Disorder, also known as Manic Depression, a mental disorder that is marked by periods of intense emotional highs and bouts of depression. Her bravery to come out and share her experiences has been applauded by mental health professionals, and as more people in the public eye open up about such personal issues, the stigma surrounding mental health disorders such as clinical depression is starting to dissipate.
Clinical depression is on the rise in the United States, but few people are willing to talk about it. Globally, over 300 million people suffer from depression and 80 percent of them don’t have the emotional fortitude, or perhaps even the energy, to find help. We are comfortable talking about physical ailments, even those that are less than sexy, but the stigma surrounding the acknowledgement of mental health issues can make it difficult to diagnose and to treat. In the workplace, employees with depression can negatively affect staff morale and their own productivity, as well as become more argumentative and fatigued, causing larger issues impacting office culture and the bottom line.
In fact, according to Mental Health America, “Clinical depression has become one of America's most costly illnesses. Left untreated, depression is as costly as heart disease or AIDS to the US economy, costing over $51 billion in absenteeism from work and lost productivity and $26 billion in direct treatment costs. Depression tends to affect people in their prime working years and may last a lifetime if untreated. More than 80 percent of people with clinical depression can be successfully treated. With early recognition, intervention, and support, most employees can overcome clinical depression and pick up where they left off.”
What can employers do to help?
As an employer, you can be a valuable resource to employees suffering from depression. First, learn to recognize the symptoms of clinical depression and educate employees on how to spot these symptoms both in themselves and in others. Individuals are often unaware that they are suffering from depression. Consider distributing information regarding the symptoms to your staff in a way that is non-threatening and doesn’t single anyone out. Having a variety of wellness challenge fliers available for employees to explore is an easy way to go about this. Or, you may want to offer a lunchtime wellness seminar series with different topics each month, and one month could feature recognizing and diagnosing the symptoms of depression in yourself or your loved ones. By offering this information in a non-threatening, group-lecture setting, you can raise awareness of the disease, while helping employees recognize the symptoms of depression, and seek treatment confidentially, in a safe environment.
Some symptoms to recognize:
-Changes in weight and eating habits
-Anxiousness and irritability
-Loss in concentration, inability to make decisions
-Thoughts of suicide
Early detection and treatment is the best prevention and, as with anything, admitting it is the first step in seeking treatment.
How to get help:
- Provide employees with an understanding of their options when it comes to their benefits surrounding mental health treatment
- Encourage them to take a personal day to go and see their doctor to discuss their symptoms
- Make sure to have information available to employees so they know where they can get help. Creating a supportive environment will help employees diagnose and treat the problem, as well as foster a culture that nurtures your employees’ overall wellbeing; all helpful with retention and morale.
- Provide employees with a list of local, in-network resources they can call
Need assistance with reviewing your mental health benefits, or want to explore new plans? Give us a call. We are here to help you with the distribution of information and have many customizable resources to share with you that we can customize for your needs. Call us at (877) 559-9922 ext.1402 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.