Dealing with Depression in the Workplace

Dealing with Depression in the Workplace

Today 10th Sept 2015 is World Suicide prevention day. According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 800,000 people die by suicide across the world each year. It is hard to imagine the extreme psychological pain that leads someone to decide that suicide is the only course of action. Reaching out to someone who is struggling can make a difference.

‘Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives’ is the theme of the Day, and encourages us all to consider the role that offering support may play in combating suicide. Asking someone if they are OK, listening to what they have to say in a non-judgmental way, and letting them know you care, can all have a significant impact.

Launch of Collins McNicholas 250km Challenge Run in aid of Pieta House in 2014. Back Row - l-r: Michelle Murphy, Colman Collins, Tom McEvoy (Pieta House), Niall Murray. Front row - l-r: Caroline Dowling and Edel Kelly.

Launch of Collins McNicholas 250km Challenge Run in aid of Pieta House in 2014. Back Row – l-r: Michelle Murphy, Colman Collins, Tom McEvoy (Pieta House), Niall Murray. Front row – l-r: Caroline Dowling and Edel Kelly.

In light of today’s theme, Collins McNicholas is proud to work with Pieta House as our chosen charity for the third year running. Following our very successful 250KM run to raise funds in aid of Pieta House last year, Collins McNicholas staff were delighted to present Pieta House with a cheque for €4,000. This money will help Pieta House carry on their vital work.

Pieta House’s primary aim is to reduce suicide by helping people to get through that critical phase when suicide becomes a plan rather than just an idea. Pieta House provides a professional, face-to-face, free of charge therapeutic service for people in the acute stages of distress. The unique clinically-based model developed by Pieta House is used across all of its centres. For more information please visit: http://www.pieta.ie

 

Fiona Kennedy is an ambassador for See Change www.seechange.ie This year, she was awarded Top Depression Blog by Psych Central, Best Health and Well-being Blog in the Irish Blog Awards, and was a finalist in the Image Blog Awards. Fiona has made numerous public &TV appearances in working to break down the stigma associated with mental health issues.

We are delighted to have Fiona as a Guest Blogger for Collins McNicholas today. Below are her personal experiences of dealing with depression & how to work with your boss to help you cope.

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Fiona Kennedy, Award Winning Blogger on Depression and Mental Health.

It’s tempting to view mental illness as being something very different to physical illness, something to be wary of, something to avoid talking about, but it doesn’t need to be that way. I’m fortunate in that I have a manager who views my mental illness exactly the same as he would a physical illness – it’s an issue, it’s one he needs to be aware of, he needs to know when I’m struggling, and we work together to manage it.

Don’t get me wrong, those conversations are far from easy. I’ve had several severe episodes of depression over the years, and the times when I need to make him aware that there is a problem are also the times when I’m least able to articulate myself. But if I don’t, I’m doing us both a disservice – him in that I’m falling far short of expectations, and me in that he quite naturally expects me to be able to deliver more than I can. Communication is vital.

At times when I’m not well, we go back to basics. He’ll keep a closer eye on what I’m doing, check-up to see that I’ve followed through with work, and generally be more directive. It works both ways. I’ll give him more regular updates on what I’m doing, and keep him informed of any difficulties I encounter. If it reaches a point that being at work is no longer practical, then that needs to be discussed as well.

I realise however that every employee/manager relationship is different, and some people may not feel able to approach their manager. It’s very much an individual decision, and as a society we are still incredibly wary of mental illness. It’s something that we’re only now starting to talk about, and we’re a long way from it being an everyday conversation.

I often get incredibly frustrated at having to manage depression, because for me, as is the case for many others, depression is not a once off. It has happened several times, and will quite likely happen again, but, there are things I can do to help myself. No more than someone with diabetes has to be mindful of their diet, and maybe take insulin, I have to look after myself and take medication. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and there is no reason for it to be any more of a barrier to work than any other chronic long term condition.

I think we have a considerable way to go before the fortunate position I find myself in becomes the norm, but we’re getting there. With the work of groups like See Change, the national movement to change minds about mental health, conversations on this topic are becoming more common. Workplace programmes are available to train management in how to best to cope with staff who may be experiencing mental health issues, while more general training is available to all staff to encourage a deeper understanding of mental health.

An important point to note is that not all mental health difficulties are due to mental illness. Every single one of us will struggle from time to time, be that due to work related stress or something that is happening in our lives that is causing difficulty – what’s important is being able to talk about it, no matter what the cause. For me, knowing that my manager is making an effort to understand, is approachable, and is willing to work with me to find a way through difficult periods, is invaluable.

 

Fiona Kennedy

Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers

Mental Health Blogger

e:fiona@sunnyspellsandscatteredshowers.org | w:http://sunnyspellsandscatteredshowers.org/

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