How to recognise if staff members are depressed

Statistically, one in four people will have problems with their mental health at some time in their lives.

Difficult events and experiences can leave people in low spirits, or cause depression. It could be in their personal lives – relationship problems, bereavement, sleep problems, loneliness or chronic illness or pain.  Or, if can often be the result of stress, or bullying at work.  Either way, depressed staff can impact on workplace health and increase the cost of sickness absence.

Occupational health experts, Medigold, have put together this guide for employers on how to spot if staff are depressed.

What’s the difference between low mood and depression?

Sometimes it’s possible to feel down without there being an obvious reason.  So, how can employers identify whether staff members are suffering from depression, or are just subject to low moods?

  • Low mood indicators

A general low mood can include sadness; feeling anxious or panicky; worry; tiredness; low self-esteem; frustration; or anger. However, a low mood will tend to lift after a few days, or weeks.

Making some small changes in your life, such as resolving a difficult situation, talking about your problems, or getting more sleep can usually improve your mood.

  • Depression symptoms

A low mood that doesn’t go away can be a sign of depression. Symptoms of depression can include the following:

  • A low mood lasting two weeks or more
  • Not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling tired or lacking energy
  • Not being able to concentrate on everyday things like reading the paper or watching television
  • Comfort eating or losing your appetite
  • Sleeping more than usual or being unable to sleep
  • Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts about self harming

Depression can also come on at specific points in your life, such as the winter months (seasonal affective disorder, or SAD) and after the birth of a child (postnatal depression).

The cost of sickness absence

As well as taking its toll on employees’ health, depression can be extremely detrimental to businesses. A 36-day absence would be inconvenient for any company, not to mention the hefty cost involved. As well as paying the employee who is suffering from depression, business owners often have to pay someone to cover the role.

Protecting workplace health

Whatever the cause of depression, if negative feelings don’t go away, are too much to cope with, or are stopping them from carrying on with their normal life, then individuals may need to make some changes and get some extra support.

The best way for employers to reduce the cost of sickness absence is to take a prevention rather than a cure approach. This is why Medigold Health offers businesses extensive mental health support for employees, including:

  • Counselling (either face-to-face or on the telephone)
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Psychotherapy
  • Occupational health advisor consultations
  • Access to specialists

Medigold Health can help your employees deal with stress, anxiety and depression, as well as a range of other health issues. If you are looking to improve workplace health and reduce the cost of sickness absence, simply contact Medigold Health today.

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workplace health | cost of sickness absence