3 Key Points in this Episode:
- There is a 4-step depression care process that employers need to understand to create the best environment for employees with depression.
- We all can play a part in removing the stigma of having depression in the workplace.
- There are financial benefits to creating a supportive environment for those who have depression.
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Let’s get started with episode 104 and part-4 of the mini-series Depression in the Workplace. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to part-1 (episode 101), part-2 (episode 102), and part-3 (episode 103) why not give those episodes a listen first.
Today, I am going to talk about why using the tools available to overcome depression is so important and we are going to talk about the financial benefits of creating a supportive environment for employees who have depression.
Please keep in mind that this podcast is designed to offer you information only, you must make all your own decisions and I highly recommend that you consult professionals. This is true in business but is especially true when making decisions about your health.
In part-2 of this mini-series, I shared my personal story about how I discovered I had depression and I mentioned that with the help of my doctor I was given some tools that have made a significant difference in my mental health and life.
The longer you wait to get help the more damage you can do in your life and when you get help the impact on your life can be wonderful.
The 4-Step Depression Care Process
In this mini-series, we have emphasized how important it is that someone who is dealing with depression gets help from medical professionals.
Basically, you can summarize the depression care process into 4 steps:
Recognition and Diagnosis
This entire 4-part mini-series; Depression in the Workplace, is really designed to help educate people but of course, each individual person must take responsibility for this education process and take advantage of every resource available, most importantly medical professionals.
This is the area that we are going to focus on in this final episode.
This is the final step in getting treatment for depression. If you would like more information about the Depression Care Process, please go to jamieirvine.ca/depression4.
Not Every Tool Will Be Right for Someone with Depression
There are several tools that medical professionals use to treat people with depression.
They can be put into several categories which include; supportive counseling, medication, psychological counseling, and emergency services.
It is important to remember that not every tool is right for the person who has depression. The path to good mental health will look different for each person.
It is important that we don’t say things to an employee like, “oh, I know someone who had depression and they took this medication and it made such a difference” or “my friend had depression and they got support from friends and family and it solved the problem.”
Remember that depression has a spectrum, the way it affects one person is going to be different from the way it affects someone else. The tools used to treat depression will also be on a spectrum. One person needs a little support from family, friends and their employer and the next person may need to be hospitalized in an emergency because they have become suicidal.
As a business leader, I know you want to help. Especially if you have created a culture of caring within your business. As a fellow employee who is contributing to that culture of caring your coworkers can be like friends, even family, depending on how long you have worked together, and I know you want to help.
So, instead of generalizing the solutions it is more important that you acknowledge that either you yourself need help or the person you are concerned about needs help and you provide a supportive environment that encourages the individual to get the specific help they need.
Fear Shouldn’t Stop You
I know that I could have got treatment at least 10-years earlier then I did, you may remember in episode 102 where I recount my story I mentioned that a doctor had suggested we investigate further because he suspected I was dealing with more than just seasonal depression but fear stopped me from pursuing a diagnosis and treatment.
I’ve seen situations where a person is afraid of going to the doctor, afraid of getting stigmatized by a depression diagnosis, afraid of taking prescribed medication, or afraid of talking about it with a counselor, therapist, or psychologist.
Now it is important to acknowledge that some fears are well-founded. For example, you might be stigmatized for having depression, some people don’t react well to some medications and not all counselors, therapists, or psychologists are going to help you.
On a side note, I’ve been reading Combating Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan, he is the leading expert on cults in America, and he talks about therapists who end up starting cults and recruiting patients into them. This is an extreme situation and not very common but shows you that when a person is fearful about getting help it is not entirely unfounded.
Most fears about getting a depression diagnosis and treatment are just that, fears, and are not based on anything real. I can’t encourage you enough to get help yourself and if you see an employee struggling, help them overcome the fear by talking about depression regularly. Don’t single out one person but rather make talking about depression a commonplace occurrence so that people feel more comfortable sharing and asking for help.
We’ve dedicated a lot of time talking about depression, 4-episodes in a row is a significant investment in this subject but since it is such a huge problem and it affects so many people, I really felt the need to make that investment.
I want you to think about something, if just one employee is suffering from depression, that has the potential to negatively impact your entire business, so it is important that you address depression in the workplace directly.
Now you may only have 5 employees, so 1 person with depression means that 20% of your staff is affected directly and of course with such a small team everyone is affected.
If you have 10 employees that means 10% of your staff are directly affected but it is still reasonable to expect that the entire team would be at least indirectly affected.
But what if you have 100 employees? Does 1% of your staff struggling with depression really affect your business that much?
The short answer is YES.
If you have 100 employees, statistically you could have as many as 25 employees or more suffer from some form of depression at any given time, but even if you only had 1 it still can have a negative effect on your business.
There are many reasons, one reason is that the person suffering from depression will often have diminished performance and that can start a ripple effect because other employees will have to pick up the slack for that person.
Also, if you are developing a culture of care within your business and you don’t care about someone suffering from depression, your employees will pick up on that and that will work against you.
I also believe that when you can help someone, and you choose not to you are violating yourself. We all have something inside of us that alerts us to what is right and what is wrong. Some of us listen to that internal voice and others have actively tried to silence that voice but it is still there.
You can do a lot as an individual to help tear down the stigma of depression and tear down the fear of getting help. I know you care about your business, your customers, and your employees. I know you care about helping people with depression otherwise, you wouldn’t be listening to the 4th episode in a row about depression.
Do all you can to create an environment in your business that makes it easy for people to talk about depression openly and get access to the help they need. It is very important that we never judge anyone with depression, especially not someone who is seeking help.
After the break, I am going to talk about the financial benefits of creating this kind of supportive environment.
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The Financial Benefits
We are back from our break, now before the break, I mentioned that I was going to talk about the financial benefits of creating a supportive environment in your business for those with depression.
Creating a supportive environment in your business for those with depression may sound like a purely altruistic endeavor but it is not. It is a very sound strategic financial investment.
Let me explain.
It is not that hard to understand that having several depressed people on your team is going to reduce productivity. Depressed people need to take more time off work, this puts a strain on the rest of the team, which can cause others to burn out and this has a domino effect. Depression costs time, energy, and money and works against you in developing a culture of care and pursuing your dream for your business.
Depressed people also often can’t consistently produce the same quality of work. The solution is not to get rid of the depressed person but rather to invest heavily in all your employee’s mental health so that everyone can produce at peak levels.
When people are depressed, they often put on a brave face but your customers are intuitive and even if they don’t consciously identify that something is wrong they will subconsciously pick up on the difference between someone who is putting on a brave face and someone who is mentally healthy and delighted to be there in that moment serving that customer.
This can have a negative impact on sales. Often the margin of error on winning a contract or securing a large order can be razor thin. If someone on your team is depressed and they are not receiving treatment, they may be just a little slower to respond to an objection from a key decision maker. On the surface, it doesn’t appear like a big deal but subconsciously the decision maker may feel that a competitor is more capable because they responded quicker than your team did and that sealed the deal for your competitor.
In past episodes, we have talked about how people buy emotionally and justify rationally after the purchase has been made. This is all part of that reality.
Finally, I believe that being responsible with your employees has other benefits that ultimately will help the bottom line. If your business has a good reputation as a great place for people to work that can sway potential suppliers and customers your way.
It is not out of the question that you could use your culture of caring and the proactive steps you have taken to help your people who suffer from depression as a differentiator in your value proposition to customers.
Customers want to deal with socially responsible businesses.
Imagine that as part of your plan you did an annual fundraiser to combat the stigma of depression. You involve your suppliers, customers, employees, and the community.
Now, imagine that your salesperson meets with a large potential customer the week after the fundraiser. There are three decision makers in the room and as your salesperson works through the sales system two of the three decision makers are satisfied and are willing to go ahead but they need the third decision maker to agree.
Now imagine the third decision maker is me. I’m the CEO of that company and I attended your fundraiser. The members of the executive team look to me to make the final decision.
How much of an impact do you think your efforts to combat depression will have on my decision?
If your business provides a solution my business needs and my executive team is satisfied that you will be a good supplier, I am going to factor in your efforts to combat depression. I’m going to think to myself, “I like this business and what they are doing, not only are they systematic in the delivery of their sales presentations and solutions, they really care about their people and that means they are going to care about us. I’ve had depression my whole life and that means something to me that they are trying to do something about it.”
You can see that if you and your competitor were supplying basically the exact same solution and there was not much to differentiate you from your competitor this would put it over the top. Now, of course, this is not our primary objective when developing a culture of caring or when providing support for those who need help with depression because if it were it wouldn’t be authentic, and it would do more to hurt our reputation than help it.
But if you’re the real deal and you really care, it is one more reason why your ideal customer should buy from you instead of your competition and that will impact your financial bottom line.
This brings episode 104 and the mini-series Depression in the Workplace to a conclusion.
Just a reminder, if you want access to additional information about the Depression Care Process please go to jamieirvine.ca/depression4.
I am going to be posting a blog post in about a month that summarizes the entire mini-series and I will put all the resources in one-spot. Join my email list today by going to jamieirvine.ca/email so you get notified once a week about new content and get access to information only found in my weekly emails.
On Tuesday, I am going to introduce you to Deepak Shukla, and we are going to answer the question;
Can a Business Leader be vulnerable and still be successful?
Talk to you on Tuesday.
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Thank you for listening and I look forward to talking with you soon.