In my growing producer years, I was always exhausted and over worked. My colleagues and me all had black under- eyes and smelt of dirty AC air constantly courtesy long nights editing our stories for the day ahead. Everyone was under pressure, we all looked depressed, we all looked and felt sullen- our faces bore the expression which literally spelt “God I hate my life right now.” For me today, on world mental health day, dealing with workplace depression remains a key subject to put our focus on.

DO WE RECOGNISE IT?

I always thought that since all of us were in the same boat that no one actually hated their job so much to be depressed about it. I didn’t even know about depression. I honestly thought it was just a temporary state of mind- something we used to describe our current situation. I never stopped to even think- is my co-worker just feeling down because of her day or she is depressed?

I honestly thought it was just a temporary state of mind- something we used to describe our current situation

NOTHING’S WRONG

I recently spoke to the author of the D word- A Survivor’s Guide To Depression, Shubhrata Prakash and the first thing that stood out to me was her smiling face and attitude– depressed people aren’t supposed to be this happy, right? Shubhrata said, “Depression is not a choice. It’s a behavioural disorder- it’s not something that I/we can control. It’s an illness in the brain. We all have good and bad days, except my average bad days can be worse than yours!”

THE SIGNS TO LOOK FOR

Her survival story is inspiring, but to get to the crux of mental health at the workplace, my first question to her was : how do I know that the person sitting right next to me could be suffering from clinical depression? What are the signs that I can look out for? ” There are a couple of tell tale signs- slow movements, avoidance, absenteeism, slower thinking, problems in making decisions, meltdowns over the smallest of things, you should keep a lookout for these. Sometimes, they may not know that they are depressed themselves or want to share about it in the office, so broach the subject gently”, Shubhrata adds.

The workforce needs to be educated about the difference between a bad mood and a clinically diagnosed disorder

That colleague I worked with last month on a project, would drop a drama episode in every meeting- was I insensitive to call her a drama queen? Was my name calling a trigger that set off her depression?

So how can we make the workplace safe? “Awareness about it is extremely important. The workforce needs to be educated about the difference between a bad mood and a clinically diagnosed disorder. Make a little concession once in a while- if an employee asks for a day off because they aren’t in a good head space, don’t mistake it for laziness. Get to the root of the problem and then maybe give them a day off to get better. Don’t push your manpower beyond their stress levels“, Shubhrata says.

So the next time you see your colleague burst into tears for no reason or generally seems rather blue- stop, ask them about how they are feeling and listen. All the healing begins with a conversation.

 #WorldMentalHealthDay