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Work Related Depression: A Great Topic for Bell Lets Talk

January 23rd, 2017 · bell lets talk

Not all corporate initiatives have merit, but Bell Lets Talk does. It’s about eliminating the stigma around mental health and coping issues.

bell lets talk

It’s important for psychotherapists to support positive initiatives when we see them!  The Bell Let’s Talk site references 5 ways that we can all help.  These are some very valuable, very useful points.

Language Matters.  Bell Lets Talk emphasizes that the language used around mental health issues can either build people up, or unfairly knock them down.  We all know the negative and destructive terminology: let’s all make a point of not using it!

Educate Yourself.  There are facts about mental illness and coping issues, and then there are old wives tales that are fear based and stigmatizing.  Let’s Talk stresses educating ourselves so that we understand the truth about these issues.

Be Kind.  Simply treating people dealing with coping issues in a kind, respectful way can be a very healing thing.

Listen and Ask.  Mental illness of one kind or another is extremely common.  Listening and asking how you can help can make an immense difference to people struggling with real pain.

Talk About it.  The vast majority of people are touched in some way by mental health issues experienced by loved ones, relatives or friends.

bell lets talk

Why Work Related Depression is an Important Topic

Work related depression fits right in with the key themes of Bell Lets Talk.  This term refers to depression directly connected to people’s experience of their working lives.  Although it’s only one very specific type of situational depression, and situational depression is itself only one very specific type of depression, work-related depression is a very common phenomenon.

Can work itself cause depression?  There is some controversy among professionals, but there is solid evidence that it can.  In any case we know that there are a combination of internal and external factors that can lead to an individual being depressed in a way that’s attributable to work.

Work Related Depression: Internal Factors

Here are some of the factors more or less internal to the person that can lead to work-related depression.

  • A wrong-fit role;
  • Misalignment between company and personal values;
  • Working parent guilt;
  • Interpersonal discomfort, due to interfacing with difficult or incompatible people;
  • Office political pressures;
  • Work/life imbalance;
  • Introversion and extroversion issues, manifested in insufficient social contact, or way too many interruptions and no privacy;
  • Financial stress due to insufficient compensation or benefits; or,
  • Feeling trapped, either in reality, or due to unrealistic fears & inhibitions

Work-Related Depression: External Factors

On the other hand, a range of factors external to the person can contribute to work related depression:

  • Unreasonable demands from management.
  • Unclear guidance at work.
  • Sexism, sexual or sexual orientation harassment
  • Poor project practices, resulting in barriers to doing good work.
  • Bullying at work, by bosses, co-workers or clients.
  • Racial, ethnic or religious prejudice
  • Low morale or low engagement at work.
  • Inconsistent or poor payroll practices
  • Poor working conditions

A 2013 Danish study by a team led by psychologist Matias Brødsgaard Grynderup of Aarhus University found that, more than the workload in a workplace, it is the work environment and the feeling of devaluation and unfair treatment by management that has a defining effect on an employee’s mood.

In keeping with the theme of Bell Lets Talk, the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health  (of the American Psychiatric Foundation) has stated definitively that work-related depression is a huge burden on its own, often made greatly worse in the workplace as a result of the stigma attached to depression.

What is work related situational depression, viewed from a depth psychotherapy perspective?  It can be seen as a form of psychological pain that is trying to find a way to resolve itself into a greater sense of vocation, meaning and purpose for the suffering individual.  The work of depth psychotherapy is to uncover the meaning, vitality and yearnings that are hidden in the grey depths of the depression.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst

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© 2016 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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