Professionals are prone to suffer from anxiety, mood disorders, depression, or a host of other mental health challenges. According to Gender, Depression, and Blue-collar Work study, both men and women in blue- and white-collar positions often experienced depression. The differences are that non-white workers were less likely to experience depression compared to their white co-workers. Blue-collar employees were also more likely to be treated for depression than white-collar workers. Meanwhile, blue-collar women might be uniquely susceptible to depression.
Despite experiencing intense depression, these hard-charging executives are often reluctant to seek help. In fact, many of them suffer in silence as they wonder when the storm will pass and they can return to normal. At times, the storm never passes but rather turns into a full-scale storm as situations and unfavourable circumstances collide, creating a chilling effect for this person and people around them.
What makes dealing with a mental health challenge hard is that the person afflicted might be unaware that something is mentally going awry. Leaders also tend to ignore mental health out of shame, ridicule, and mental healthcare utilisation. Researchers showed that barriers to mental illness among blue-collar workers are stigma or less permissive norms around mental healthcare utilisation, provider behaviour, or temporal inflexibility. Employees also have a greater sensitivity towards mental health care costs which hold them to seek further help.
Some workers choose to not mind much about their mental health, but it is time to change and break the barrier. You should not ignore your behaviours, since mental well-being is just as important as our physical health.
According to the Campaign to Change Direction, there are five signs that people should look for in themselves or others. When any of the five signs are present, you should listen to what the person is saying, offer to help them get additional help and be compassionate. If you notice these signs in yourself or someone else, seek assistance. You might want to speak to family members to encourage the person to seek help.
The point is to do something which involves having a crucial conversation and sharing with the other person what you have noticed and how you are concerned. The most difficult part is the conversation because people can and often do become defensive about having a mental health issue. But truth sprinkled with a little compassion and courage can take you a long way when you recognise the signs.
1. Personality Change
You might say to yourself, “I don’t recognise her anymore”. What has become a part of someone’s values or identity does not seem to fit any longer because they do and say things that are contrary to their usual personality. A personality change brought on due to a crisis can be a warning sign that help is needed.
What might be a minor incident that can be met with explosive behaviour that is fueled by anger, rage and hostility? Certain mood disorders can have agitation as a tell-tale sign. How can a level headed person become someone who blows her top over things that ordinarily would not faze her? Their anger can be shown by cursing, slamming doors, menacing facial expressions and so forth.
A person experiencing some form of mental health challenge tends to pull away from social interactions and prefer to be alone. Not to be confused with the preference of an introvert, because the pulling back is something that is abnormal or at a minimum unusual for the person. You might find that person isolating and retreating to their office or anywhere to be alone during workday. If this is unusual, it should be discussed.
4. Poor Self-Care
This is where you will see reckless behaviour accompanied by a change in how one maintains her image or personal hygiene. It is not uncommon for someone to self-medicate and drink excessively as she attempts to manage what is going on in her mind to no avail.
You might start to hear self-loathing, hurt, pain, doom and gloom from a person experiencing mental health challenges. In fact, this is where you will hear suicidal ideation that takes the form of statements such as, “I’m worth more dead than alive, things would be better off without me, or life is not worth living.” These are just a few verbal expressions that can give you a peek into their mind. Similar utterances should be taken seriously and discussed with a mental health professional.
Employee Assistance Program could be one of the best ways to deal with mental issues at the workplace. It is an initiative where employees can share their problems with experts indiscreetly. Coworkers or HR leaders can also help by approaching the victim and listening to them without judging. Gather your thoughts and think thoroughly on how you can help the said employees. If, as their workmate, you cannot help solve the problems, you can recommend them to seek further help and let them know that they are loved and their presence matters. While the job of HR is to oversee problems and address them appropriately, HR should be more human when dealing with depression.