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Recognizing Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

Nearly 1 billion people worldwide are diagnosed with mental health disorders. Many people are never diagnosed and they struggle through it which often results in poor performance and rampant unemployment. Recognizing mental health issues in the workplace is a crucial step to understanding these issues and removing the stigma. All of the statistics presented are from Johns Hopkins Medicine and the World Health Organization.

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Depression is the most common mental health disorder and it affects approximately 264 million people worldwide. It is one of the main causes for a disability that causes people to not be able to work. Women are almost twice as likely to suffer from depression than other genders. Depression can be triggered by adverse life events including trauma, bereavement, and unemployment. I know first-hand how much unemployment can cause depression and make it hard to find and even keep jobs.

Depression is characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, tiredness, and poor concentration. Those affected may also experience other physical ailments such as pain that cannot be explained by a medical diagnosis.

Treatments for Depression

Treatments for depression include interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) which is a time-limited approach to therapy that aims to help the patient resolve their interpersonal problems and physical ailments caused by depression.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a longer type of therapy that focuses on positive thinking to challenge cognitive distortions and behaviors. The ultimate goal of CBT is to develop problem solving and healthy coping strategies.

Medications can also be prescribed including antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These often have side effects as the patient’s body adjusts to new or increased medications.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is severe anxiety that interferes with daily activities and tasks. It goes beyond normal worrying to the point that the person cannot control their thoughts. It is very common for people to have both anxiety and depression. Anxiety can be triggered by issues with physical health, family, money, and work.

Anxiety Disorder Symptoms and Treatments

This slide shows some of the more common symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Anxiety can lead to very poor concentration, trouble sleeping, tension, headaches, and irritability among other things which cause a person to perform very poorly at work. It is very important for management to check in on employees who excelled in the past but are now performing poorly. Anxiety can be treated with medication and CBT or ILT similar to depression treatments. Patients can also learn relaxation techniques such as meditation to help them cope with difficult situations.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (aka BPD) is a mood disorder. It causes extreme mood swings where a person experiences very high highs and very low lows. It affects all genders equally although women may have more symptoms when they are in a depressive cycle. The cause of bipolar disorder is unknown but studies show that it could be linked to environmental, psychological, or genetic factors. There are multiple types of Bipolar Disorder including Bipolar 1 which is more severe and Bipolar 2 is a bit less severe. There is also Bipolar Depression and Manic Depression. All of these have similar symptoms of varying degrees.

Bipolar disorder causes a person to have cycles of extreme ups (otherwise known as mania) and downs (aka depression or manic depression). It affects the ability to think clearly and rationally, how you eat and sleep, and your self image. There are many symptoms and I have the most common ones listed here. When a person is in a depressive cycle, they may experience constant sadness, low energy, inability to focus, and even changes in their eating and sleeping patterns.

When a person is in a manic state, the feelings are pretty much the exact opposite. They may experience inflated self-esteem, racing thoughts, irritability, excessive talking, and an overall euphoric feeling. This goes beyond normal feelings of euphoria when someone achieves success, manic depression is cyclical without always being triggered by external forces.

Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

The main treatment for Bipolar Disorder is medication. It can be a very long process to figure out the correct combination as there are many medications available. While the affected person is trying out medications, they can have terrible side effects which make them unable to work including extreme migraines and being unable to think clearly. I myself have gone through this and I had to take off work for a month as a part of my treatment plan with my doctor. Other treatments include IPT and CBT which we talked about earlier as treatments for depression and anxiety.

Anyone can have a mental health disorder and most people suffer in silence especially at work due to the stigma against these disorders. People can appear completely fine but you never know what is going on in someone’s personal life and a little understanding goes a long way to remove the stigma of mental health disorders in the workplace.

Recognizing Mental Health Issues in the Workplace – Courses on Pluralsight

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Increasing Mental Health Awareness for Improved Inclusiveness – Available Now on Pluralsight!

You can learn more about recognizing mental health issues in the workplace in my Pluralsight course, Increasing Mental Health Awareness for Improved Inclusiveness. This course includes animated scenario-based training and you will watch as an organization develops their mental health initiatives and how their initiatives impact their employees. Visit hoffstech.com/mentalhealthawareness to get started with a free trial today!