Over 300 million people around the world suffer from clinical depression and 80 percent of them never seek help.  We are comfortable talking about our pimples, our hormones, our periods, our digestive issues, but somehow admitting to things being less than perfect in our emotional or mental world is difficult.  This perceived stigma surrounding mental health ailments makes it all the more difficult to diagnose and to treat. 

Mental health issues, particularly clinical depression, can play a unique role in the workplace, too.  Employees suffering from untreated depression can be argumentative, unreliable and unproductive causing a decline in overall workplace happiness by their actions, which can have an effect on office culture and the bottom line.  In fact, depression left untreated is very costly to our economy.  According to one such study, depression in the U.S. economy has cost over $51 billion in absenteeism and lost productivity.

How can we help?

Individuals often lack resources, so employers can be a valuable source for staff members suffering from depression, especially when it’s done in a manner that is easily accessible, confidential and non-threatening.  Here are some ways you can provide your employees with some much-needed guidance and relief:

1. Hold regular wellness classes for employees both for physical and mental wellbeing.  Consider offering a mental health series.  The more we talk about it the less stigma surrounds it.

2. Learn to recognize the symptoms of depression and teach employees how to recognize them in others.  Depression can manifest itself in many ways, including chronic fatigue, irritability, changes in weight, thoughts of suicide.

3. Provide your staff with an understanding of their healthcare benefits surrounding mental health issues in non-threatening and doesn’t single anyone out. 

4.  Distribute fliers with local resources of who to contact for treatment.

Exercise can also help to stimulate things in the brain that can help ease and even prevent the onset of clinical depression.  By encouraging your employees to move, they are more likely to be healthier both mentally and physically.  Since we all spend so much of our lives at the office, this is an opportunity to proactively create happier individuals, which helps everyone.  We are all in this together!