How to recognise Workplace Depression

Recognising workplace depression can be incredibly tough. After all, most managers are not psychologically trained.

The Office of National Statistics advises that stress, anxiety, and depression can account for 44% {*} of all health-related cases. It also accounts for 54% of all working days lost to ill health. Commentators predict a worsening of this position, as we continue to navigate our way through Covid-19.

“Research consistently shows that only a minority of people disclose mental illness as a reason for sickness absence”Simon Blake (CEO of Mental Health First)

This suggests that we are only just beginning to see the tip of the mental health iceberg.

Undiagnosed workplace depression is a reported driving factor for low staff retention rates, toxic morale, decreased productivity and increased absenteeism. Outside the working environment can be just as gloomy for some employees. Depression can damage the interpersonal relationships we have with others. This can include family, friends and loved ones. It can lead to a person retreating, cutting off communication with others as well as neglecting hygiene. It can also lead to a variety of unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Depression, stress, and anxiety in the workplace are often much more challenging to spot than a physical ailment.

What are the signs to look out for?

Depression can range from low mood and overwhelming hopelessness. This can affect cognitive functioning and performance to intrusive, negative thinking patterns.

In its mildest form, employers can expect to see a dip in an employee’s concentration, plus a struggle to remain focused, motivated, and productive. At its most severe, depression can be life-threatening.

  • Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Sadness that doesn’t seem to go away
  • Tiredness and loss of energy
  • Difficulty remaining focused and concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Avoiding other people, even those who are close family or friends
  • Sleep problems
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Self-harm/ thoughts of self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts

Why workplace depression can go unnoticed?

A report by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) {*} shows 49% of managers have never received any mental health training. As a result, it is unlikely they will be trained to give ongoing one-to-one support, even if they have time to do so.

Line managers play an essential role in identifying and supporting the mental health of our staff. Therefore, not identifying such issues or knowing how to help them best is of enormous concern.

Something as standard as getting out of bed, showering, dressing and getting into work on time can feel difficult. People are often reluctant to talk about it for fear of ‘keeping up appearances’ or perceived stigma. Sadly, these exact types of behaviours can often lead to employers’ interpreting staff behaviour as unprofessional or lazy.

When striving for peak performance, the lines can blur when judging if an employee is struggling or are they lazy.

What can make workplace depression worse?

  • Long working hours
  • Challenging targets
  • Fear of redundancy
  • Dealing with difficult colleagues, situations, or customers

These issues are magnified when access to appropriate psychological and counselling support is not part of the manager’s arsenal.

What can you do as an employer?

Good news! Here at Hope, we offer an essential blend of business understanding and therapeutic expertise. As a result, we have the expert knowledge and tools to help businesses manage workplace mental health. In turn supporting your employee’s morale, performance, and productivity. This can be an essential part of increasing positive growth both for the employee and broader business.

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