The French First Lady Valerie Trierweiler has been in the news for entering hospital with a “coup de bleus” after the announcement of Francois Hollande, the french president’s affair with a french actress. Coup de bleus means a touch of the blues or depression. Whilst it is usually rare for someone to go into hospital for such a condition, it can have a huge impact on those who suffer from the medical condition. Employers need to understand about coping with depression in the workplace.
January is a depressing time of the year anyway after the colourful festivities of Christmas and the New Year, the weather is cold and grey and the shops full of dowdy sale items. 20 January this year was declared to be Blooming Monday as the third Monday in January is declared to be the most depressing day of the year. The long hot summer days certainly do seem far away. To combat the effect workers are being encouraged to wear bright clothes on this day – http://www.blooming-monday.com/
Seasonal affective disorder is a temporary condition linked to the low light levels in and winter (mainly December, January and February) in the UK and is one of a range of disorders related to depression. The symptoms are low mood, lack of interest in life, less activity than normal and sleeping more than usual. It can be treated by sitting in front of a light box, cognitive behaviourial therapy and/or anti depressants. More information http://www.sada.org.uk/.
Another type of depression related condition is bipolar disorder. An employee with this condition can be difficult to manage due to the nature of the condition and I have supported several clients in this area. Bi polar disorder is characterised by fluctuating moods between mania and depression. An employee with the condition can be disruptive, failing to follow instructions and making mistakes.
Anxiety disorders can be manifested by restlessness, fatigue, difficulty in concentrating and excess worrying. Employees will seek constant reassurance about their performance.
It is important to manage depression-related conditions in the workplace as the condition is linked to sickness absence and poor productivity which can impact on the bottom line. Individuals with depression are more likely to lose their jobs due to conduct and capability issues. Statistics show they are more likely to keep changing their jobs.
It is important for employers to keep on top of any depression related condition with an employee. Regular documented meetings to discuss the situation are needed and enlisting the help of a good occupational therapist is vital to manage depression related conditions if they become serious. An occupational health report can help reduce sickness absence and can help support a capability programme. An occupational health advisor is preferable to approaching the employee’s GP for a report as occupational health will be working in your favour whereas the GP will be working in favour of the employee. It is important to try and manage the employee to get them back to working normally. If ultimately dismissal is on the cards a report can be invaluable should an employment tribunal claim be pursued.