I've been getting a lot of requests to write something about depression in the workplace. I have my opinions about the topic, but I thought I'd better do a bit of background research just to make sure I'm not giving any advice that's inappropriate or misleading.
Wow! Was I surprised by how many facets there are to this discussion! Let me give you two examples:
While that's a relatively easy "Yes" for many of us, it isn't always that simple.
Do you tell your boss if he/she doesn't like you? Does your boss understand what depression is? Does your boss even want to know what depression is about or that you suffer from it? We'll leave this discussion for another post.
Another example: What legal rights do I have if I disclose I suffer from depression?
As I understand it, this varies from country to country. What if you live in a third world country? Working for a foreign company? Permanent versus part-time or temporary work. While you might be legally protected from getting fired because you've disclosed you are depressed, some companies get around this by firing you for poor work performance.
From just these two questions, you can see there is a lot more to dealing with depression in the workplace than a simple yes or no to any one question. My advice: if you're not sure whether you should share that you're depressed with your company, contact your local labor relations board. They can give you general information as to what is legally required by companies in your province, state or country and what you can expect. Another source of information can be your local mental health clinic or association. Finally, you might want to contact your union or human resources department. After all, they are there to help you and know the company better inside and out.
Some companies are very open and generous about helping their employees who are depressed. These companies provide professional counselling and resources to aid you in your battle and recovery. They also provide time off should you need it with your old position and pay rate waiting for you when you're ready to return.
Other companies look at their bottom line. If they can't afford your absence, they won't make the effort to help you when you're depressed. Some companies consider their employees as temporary or replacement workers with no benefits. Unfortunately the main priorities of these companies are not the mental or physical well being of their employees.
Sometimes it's a lack of education about depression that influences the employer. Sometimes it's the economic value placed by the company on it's employees. It's by discussing workplace behaviours and accepted practices regarding depression that we can truly hope to bring relief to employees who suffer with depression.
Stay tuned for more articles on this topic!
Terezia Farkas. International Bestselling Author, Huffington Post/ CNN contributor, columnist of Depression Help. Focus is mental health. Her bestseller Heart of Love Evolution – Surviving Depression is available on Amazon. Website: www.tereziafarkas.com Follow on Twitter.