Coping with depression at work

09 July 2019

Following the increase in mental health awareness in the modern business world, it’s important you understand the signs of depressed employees at work. If staff members are struggling, it can affect overall productivity and result in absenteeism. As such, it’s important to ensure staff well-being is high up your agenda. In this guide, we explain the rights of your workforce and how to maintain positivity in your working environment.

Signs and symptoms of depression at work

First of all, how do you tell if an employee is suffering from depression and anxiety at work? If you’re able to see the signs, you’ll be able to approach an employee earlier. This can ensure the issue doesn’t last for many months before you properly address the situation. But what are the signs and symptoms of a depressed staff member? Look out for behaviour such as:

  • A lack of motivation.
  • Suffering from concentration issues.
  • Sleepiness at work.
  • Showing no interest in their role.
  • Difficulty engaging with colleagues.
  • Self-imposed isolation.
  • Increased absenteeism.

But depression can also show itself in unusual ways. While many business owners would consider an increase in sick days as an obvious sign, extensive presenteeism can also be a sign that all is not well.

How to deal with depression at work

As a business, you must remember that depression is a complex mental health issue and isn’t about an employee’s need to “get over” whatever they’re struggling with. You should also realise there’s still a stigma surrounding mental health. Dealing with depression at work must include recognising employees won’t naturally open up about their struggles. They may worry that it could affect their future with your business. So it’s important to handle the subject carefully so as not to make the individual’s situation worse.   As a result, one of the first approaches you can take is making sure your employee doesn’t have any triggers for depression at your place of work. Some of these include:

  • An overly high workload.
  • Tasks that are beyond their skill level.
  • Difficulties with colleagues, such as their managers.
  • Concerns over their job security.
  • Financial struggles with a low wage.

Your staff’s depression at work rights

It’s a common question we receive from employees, “I’m off work with depression what are my rights?” If an employee suffers from depression, they do have depression and work rights (UK). For example, they can claim time off for stress to recover—they’ll need to see their GP to claim this time off. But before they take that step, you should encourage your staff to reach out to higher management. Have an open business policy that fosters discussion about mental health issues. This can encourage employees to open up, which can start the process of managing depression at work (more on that in the section below). Your line managers are essential in that process. If a staff member feels comfortable speaking to them, then they can address the issues they’re struggling with (especially if it’s work that’s causing the problem). Your managers can encourage your employees to seek help. They can refer to their GP, but if you have an employee assistance programme (EAP) then staff can turn to your internal services for support.

Coping with depression at work

Part of their treatment may involve cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). But you can also encourage behaviour that stops staff from becoming depressing, or improving symptoms if they are. This can include:

  • Engaging in regular exercise.
  • Taking a holiday.
  • Eating more healthily.
  • Stopping smoking.
  • Abstaining from alcohol.
  • Improving work-life balance.

Again, if the issue continues then staff can seek professional assistance from medical professionals.

Need more help?

We can help you deal with depression at work so that your business can create a positive working environment. Contact us today on: 0800 028 2420.

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