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BW Namibia

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

mental health at the workplace

Dear all,

I’m going to be writing about mental health at the workplace and the kind of support that we could get from the employer or colleagues.

That said, I’m just wondering if any of you have any experience of mood disorders or have writtten anything like this before? and also if so what are your thoughts?

Should the empolyer provide this kind of support or would you say its best for people to just go home when they are depressed or having some kind of other mood disorder?


Recent comments:

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    May 7th, 2009 @04:53 #

    Bump. This post didn't make it to the front page (blame teething) - so am highlighting it now.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    May 7th, 2009 @18:48 #

    Oh boy, how long have you got? I am afraid that my distant memories of workplaces suggest that they can create mood disorders, if not worse. (I have a theory that sometimes they can be lethal.) On the plus side, I have wonderful long-standing friendships that originated in those workplaces.

    Personally, I think anyone who is physically or mentally impaired to the extent that they can't do their job should stay home until they can, but sick-leave plans don't usually take this into account.

  • Sarah Frost
    Sarah Frost
    May 7th, 2009 @19:24 #

    And what of those who work from home? In my company we all work at home, and
    rely on ADSL to send our newsletters to clients, but rarely meet (my colleagues live all over SA). Our employer can't really offer support for mental health difficulties, apart from normal sick leave. I'd be interested to know, legally, what their obligations are. Looking forward to reading your further research, Nabukenya.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    May 7th, 2009 @19:44 #

    Hi there Nabukenya - I have just last month escaped from what can only be described as an abusive co-dependency with my employer. The management style in my department quashed any creative input, and undermined my individual skills and talents. Throughout the last four or five years there, I had the sense that they would rather have someone who was cheaper and more easily bossed about. The fact that I had more than a decade's experience in the field, higher learning, and was a published writer meant absolutely nothing to them... as far as management was concerned, instead of an asset, my extra skills made me less repressible, a liability. All the while, I started to believe them that I had no real skills and could do no better than what I had so I was lucky to have a job and should just shut up - that's why I stayed there long after it was good for me (it had been educational and interesting for a long time at first). This situation became a major cause of my depression, not the only one. When my mother died in February - and my stress and anger played out in confrontations with other staffers over unreasonable work demands - I was told in a disciplinary meeting that "everyone has their personal problems". My confidence had been so undermined that I found myself saying that yes indeed I was the one with a behavioural problem and that I would sort it out. In the end it took just a week or two of anti-depressants and a few sessions with a psychotherapist for me to realise just how poisonous that environment was to me. I resigned, and suddenly my life seems so full of options, variety and acknowledgement and all I can wonder is why I allowed myself to get treated like that for so long.

    This anecdote doesn't directly answer your question, but it is an illustration of the gross damaging effect negligent management can have on employees' productivity and well-being. If I had been fostered and encouraged, I probably would still be there. So I'm kinda glad I wasn't... the Comfort Zone of complacency and stagnation just became too uncomfortable.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">nabukenya</a>
    May 7th, 2009 @20:22 #

    hi helen,

    What do you mean by mentally impaired?

    Sarah I was specifically talking about those who work away from home because then they are working together and their behaviour might affect those of others around them.

    Louis, its true a work environment can contribute to depression.

    well i guess i will have to see what comes out of my research.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    May 7th, 2009 @23:16 #

    Hey Nabukenya: Mentally impaired -- anyone who has an episode of mental illness (for example, depression) that needs medical treatment/intervention -- same as a physical illness or injury.

    Louis, my job at OUP made me so ill I got medically boarded... for reasons similar to yours. Although in my case it had a lot to do with working 15 hour-days, six days a week, as the norm. The last straw was when my boss resigned and I had to do her job as well for months. One day I went jogging, collapsed, and couldn't get up again. Spent most of the next year IN BED. However, not all the blame lay at my employer's door: my perfectionism and misplaced loyalty contributed. I should have been more slapgat.


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