April 7th is World Health Day and marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization. World Health Day isn’t all about hand-washing and healthy eating. This year it is about addressing a silent killer that is often never spoken about. Depression.
World Health Day Annual Themes
Each year an annual theme is chosen to highlight and prioritize a particular issue. In 1995 the theme was Global Polio Eradication. Thanks to that year’s effort, polio awareness rose significantly. Today in many parts of the world, people are freed from this dreaded disease.
The theme of the World Health Day 2017 is Depression. This is a disease that can be both prevented and treated. The first step is to reduce the stigma associated with the condition and lead to more people seeking help. That is something that World Health Day can be extremely effective at accomplishing.
It is no surprise that depression can strike people of all ages. All levels of income and education. Working persons and the unemployed. Physically healthy individuals and those dealing with chronic illness. The fact is that depression has no personal bias. It welcomes all individuals regardless of status, country, sexual orientation or race.
Depression causes terrible mental anguish and can deeply affect how someone performs even the simplest of everyday tasks. Depression can have devastating consequences with relationships both at work and at home. It can impact one’s ability to earn a living and make one question the value of their existence.
Just because you think you are worthless doesn’t make it true.
The Workplace and Depression
North Americans are known for placing a great deal of emphasis on their work and their career. Depression can often set in when one feels insecure about their job, income, conflicts in the workplace, bullying, abusive supervision, and the never-ending challenge of balancing work and family life.
In studies conducted in the last few years, scientists discovered that psychological demands of work or because of work have become key factors producing mental health problems such as psychological distress, depression and burnout.
Unfortunately, 38% of employees polled said they wouldn’t tell their managers about a mental health issue. More than half of the time, it’s because they were afraid it would affect their careers. So if mental health continues to fly under the radar, how concerned are you about reliability and safety?
No workplace is immune from mental health risks.
Willingness to Discuss Depression
The Mental Health Commission of Canada stated that adults in their early and prime working years are among the hardest hit by mental health problems and illnesses. Why would that be the case when the workplace has the ability to play an essential part in maintaining positive mental health?
With most adults spending most of their waking hours working, it is vitally important that mental health issues be recognized and addressed. Upwards of 70% of Canadians are concerned about the psychological health and safety of their workplace. It was noted that when the subject of mental health is not addressed in the workplace, approximately 14% of employees don’t believe they are either healthy or safe.
Employees who said they would be willing to come forward and speak about their depression tended to have a good relationship with their managers. When a culture is ‘healthy’ with supportive policies, employees feel encouraged to come forward for help.
World Health Day 2017 can help us correct our definition of occupational health and safety because it is not limited to the physical any longer.
Sometimes, bad days are there to remind you that you have good ones to look forward to.
Reducing the Stigma of Depression
How open are Canadians about discussing mental health in the workplace? Hopefully, World Health Day 2017 will create an environment where people are willing to open up more about the existence of a very common disease.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health conducted a poll that showed 4 out of 10 Canadians wouldn’t tell their boss if they had a mental health problem. The upside is that it also indicated that if they knew about a colleague’s mental distress, he or she would make some effort to help.
Another recent study presented some progressive findings. Those individuals who fell into a high-risk category for depression were seeking help of some kind.
- 31% were open talking about mental health issues
- 24% admit to talking with their family and friends
- 16% spoke with their doctor
- 11% approached a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist
As you see, there is still quite a way to go in helping bring depression out of the closet.
Sadly, too many people continue to suffer in silence. As many as 15% of Canadians conceded they felt depressed to the point of feeling hopelessness almost every day for weeks at a time and 17% admitted this has happened to them at least once.
John Wright, senior vice-president of Ipsos Reid, talks about the findings of a recent poll which suggests one in three people are classified as high risk for a potential mental health issue. Wright is also quoted as saying that talking about mental health is a great step forward, but that the services need to follow next.
Depression & the Facts
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, approximately one in five Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. In the United States it is estimated that at least six million men have a depressive every year. (Woman’s statistics were not stated)
Although depression is highly treatable, men seem to have more issue with recognizing, acknowledging, or seeking help. Although both men and women may develop the standard symptoms, they often experience their depression differently. This may lead to a number of different ways of coping.
Men may report fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in work or hobbies, and sleep disturbances. Women generally talk about feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and excessive guilt. Although women make more suicide attempts during their lives, tragically, four times as many men die by suicide.
According to WHO depression causes mental anguish and impacts on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks. It often has devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends. It challenges a person’s ability to earn a living.
What can you do to Fight Depression?
There are certain behaviors that will help to reduce stress and depression. Some of the simple things that can be done by most people is to engage in a regular exercise regime, walk to work, eat healthy meals, adopt a pet and develop a good social support network. A positive outlook on life and good self- esteem have been shown to decrease stress and depression.