Coaching for Depression Can Keep You at Work
22nd June, 20100 Comments
A recent survey has highlighted that most employees with depression think that disclosing their condition to colleagues or employers could have a negative impact on their working life. Nearly eight out of ten believe it could cause problems while almost one in three of those who have divulged their condition say they have been rejected jobs or promotion as a result.
Figures suggest that one in ten people of working age in the UK suffers depression at any one time but just one in four of those have told their employers about their mental health.
Over half (51%) believe they are or have been discouraged from taking on new projects, 48% are avoided by colleagues and 47% have received unwelcome comments from other employees. Half of the survey has revealed that, in their opinion, they have been passed over for promotion.
When asked what would help them to cope with their condition in the workplace most desired flexitime, cover for time off and counselling/coaching. Interestingly, 46% of 288 involved in the survey of employees with depression said having steady employment actually assisted in their challenge with the condition and on the road to recovery.
Emer O’Neill, chief executive of the Depression Alliance, which launched the survey, said “Having a job is very important to people with depression so employers and employees need to have a much greater understanding of the challenges faced by people with depression in order to provide the support they need to contribute fully.”
Depression is commonly, although not exclusively, a by-product of work-related stress and is a major cause of occupational ill health and businesses which do not tackle this serious health and safety issue are likely to see a high level of sickness absence and staff turnover and poor performance levels.
Coaching is a proactive approach to tackling stress, depression and anxiety and can make the difference between going off sick, usually for lengthy periods, and staying in work. Coaching can help with identifying the stressors in the workplace and putting in mitigating strategies for reducing or eliminating these. Coaching can help discover what reasonable adjustments need to be made to workloads or ways of working that maybe negatively influencing mental wellbeing.
A coach can help with mental wellbeing and there is evidence that suggests that there are simple steps people can take to protect and maintain their mental well-being. The coach can help by assisting people to make healthy choices - and making sure they can take advantage of them, such as:
1. Keep physically active
2. Eat well
3. Only drink in moderation
4. Value yourself and others
5. Talk about your feelings
6. Keep in touch with friends and family
7. Care for others
8. Get involved, make a contribution
9. Learn a new skill
10. Do something creative
11. Take a break
12. Ask for help
Reference: Making it Possible: Improving Mental Health and Well-being in England (CSIP 2005)
The greatest barrier people face is the chance to prove their effectiveness when it is known they have experienced mental health problems. Research indicates that once given this chance, they take sick leave less than average and demonstrate strong loyalty towards their employer. Coaching will encourage the employee to demonstrate that they can still be effective whilst working through their mental health challenges and be stronger and wiser from the lessons learnt.
It’s helpful to make a distinction between ‘pressure’, ‘stress’ and ‘mental health problems’. Everybody may feel under pressure but not everybody suffers the adverse reaction of stress or a mental health problem. Also, everybody reacts differently - one person’s spur to action is another’s nightmare and a cause of paralysis at work. A frank and honest discussion with a coach can help provide the distinction and produce a plan of action to counteract the negative stressors at work, and even at home.
It is important to emphasise that the vast majority of people who have experienced a mental health problem continue or return to work successfully and with the help of a coach your chances of staying in work are increased significantly.
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