July 16, 2024

Mental health is a core focus for all employers, no matter how small or large organization . It is something no employer can afford to ignore. We all have mental health just as we have physical health – it moves up and down along a spectrum from good to poor. Considering how much time we spend at work, it is not surprising that our jobs can affect our wellbeing. One of the most common mental health problems affecting most people in the workplace today is depression.A typical example of depression outcome was the case of a medical doctor, Allwell Orji, who stopped his driver on the 3rd mainland bridge and jumped into the Lagos lagoon on 19th March, 2017. Also, on 29th  August, 2017, it was reported that a man jumped into the river on the Mile2 bridge in Lagos, just to mention a few, , in recent time we have recorded cases of suicidal.

What is depression and what cause it? Depresion is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home. Depression often means someone is less likely to want to discuss their thoughts, feelings or behaviour, which can lead others to misinterpret its common symptoms as laziness or unprofessionalism.

What causes depression ?

The causes of depression vary, but possible factors include:Life events, physical conditions, medication, stress and lack of sleep.Pressures in the workplace – for example; fear of redundancy, long hours, dealing with difficult people or situations,

or unreasonable targets – can both cause and worsen depression. Although employees may not want to discuss these problems, it is important to consider how they can be addressed to assist the person’s recovery, as people who have experienced a mental health challenge can and do make a valuable contribution to the workplace.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

  1. Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  3. Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  4. Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  5. Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  6. Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
  7. Feeling worthless or guilty
  8. Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  9. Thoughts of death or suicide
  10. Finding normal interesting activities very uninteresting
  11. Withdrawal from friends and family
  12. Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  13. Having consistently low or no energy
  14. Emotionless feeling, like nothing matters
  15. Feeling helpless or hopeless
  16. Obsessive smoking, drinking, and use of drugs
  17. Consistent feeling of confusion, forgetfulness, edginess and anger
  18. Constant fight with family and friends
  19. Experiencing severe mood swings
  20. Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  21. Thinking of harming yourself or others

Coping with depression:

There are a number of things people can do to help reduce the symptoms of depression. For many people, regular exercise helps create positive feeling and improves mood. Getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis, eating a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol (a depressant) can also help reduce symptoms of depression.

Depression is a real illness and help is available. With proper diagnosis and treatment, the vast majority of people with depression will overcome it. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, a first step is to see your family physician or psychiatrist. Talk about your concerns and request a thorough evaluation. This is a start to addressing your mental health needs.

Five ways of dealing with mental health issues
Moving from a low or depressive state to a healthy mental state is a process, which cannot be immediately achieved, but takes time. In dealing with different mental illnesses, it is important to note these few points for quicker results:

1. Seek professional help.
2. To achieve peak performances, there is need to have a positive mindset, which involves an individual not dwelling in his or her sadness or anger, but seeking help when things get out of hand. It is one thing to acknowledge that you are sad and heal from it but another thing to stay in that emotion and become depressed.
3. Surround yourself with family, friends and positive individuals that bring out the best in you. Do not lose touch of physical meetings and hangouts.
4. Be careful with what you take into your mind; what goes on in a person’s environment can affect his or her mental state. Always invest your time in doing positive things. Be physically active. As the saying goes “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.
5. Be conscious of your peak performances and be able to get positive results on a consistent basis.

How can HR help to deal with mental health challenges? 

HR has a vital role to play in supporting an employee with a mental health challenge – whether they are at work or not.Generally, a common-sense approach based on open communication and good people-management is all that is required. The rules of thumb are:

Encourage people to talk: Create an open environment where people feel able to have a dialogue about their wellbeing, and even disclose a diagnosed mental health problem should they wish. Remember everyone’s experience of mental health problems is different. Focus on the person, not the problem and ask open questions about their triggers and what support they need.

Avoid making assumptions: Do not try to guess what symptoms an employee might have and how these might affect their ability to do their job – many people are able to manage their condition and perform their role to a high standard.

Respect confidentiality: Remember mental health information is highly confidential and sensitive. Do not pass on information unnecessarily – not least because this breach of trust could negatively impact an individual’s mental health.

Create a friendly environment: Always try to make the environment friendly to enable employees to be able to express their feelings freely. Create fun in the workplace to balance it up with work

Respond flexibly: Because mental health problems affect everyone in different ways and at different times in their lives, adapt your support to suit the individual by developing a personalized action plan.


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