Here are five things you need to know about increasing stress and depression in the workplace, and how you can help your coworkers:
1. MAJOR PROBLEM Depression ranks among the top three workplace problems for employee assistance professionals, according to mentalhealthamerica.com. About 3 percent of total short term disability days are due to depressive disorders. In 76 percent of those cases, the employee was female.
2. LONELINESS Americans are more disconnected today, and former Surgeon General Viek H. Murthy said the modern workplace environment could be contributing. Telecommuting and quiet offices lead to isolation in the workplace, he said.
3. NO CONTROL Studies show that workers who have more control over the mundane aspects of their job are happier and stay at their employers longer. Workers who had control over their hours, working location, clothing, desk decor and order of tasks stayed at their place of employment longer, according to one study.
MORE COVERAGE: 6 local school awarded funding for suicide prevention programs
4. OVERWORKED Job stress can double anxiety and depression, according to a report published in the Jan. 25 online journal Plos ONE.
The study suggests employees who work long hours are twice as likely to experience a major depressive episode.
5. UNPREPARED WORKPLACES Workplaces are relatively unprepared to help employees who are struggling with suicidal thoughts or to assist colleagues following the death of a co-worker by suicide, according to the Center for Workplace Mental Health. Suicide deaths of workers often lead to decrease in productivity and workplace morale. Here's how to intervene in the workplace if you believe a coworker is depressed or suicidal:
- Ask how he or she is doing.
- Listen without judging.
- Mention changes you have noticed in the person's behavior and say that you are concerned about his or her emotional well-being.
- Suggest that he or she talk with someone in the employee assistance program (EAP), the human resources department, or another mental health professional. Offer to help arrange an appointment and go with the person.
- Continue to stay in contact with the person and pay attention to how he or she is doing.
- When signs are unclear or when employees are unsure how to respond, employees should be instructed to talk with their EAP or human resources department, or call the crisis line.
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