One of the lions of American history was our 16th President Abraham Lincoln. He was a man of sorrows suffering from frequent bouts of depression since he was a young man in rural Illinois. In 1862, Lincoln wrote in a condolence letter to a friend whose Father had died:

“In this sad world of ours sorrow comes to all, and to the young it comes with bittered agony because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to expect it.”

“Not only did Abraham Lincoln suffer from serious episodes of depression, but he also tried to give advice to others he knew were suffering. Lincoln's depressions, whether they lasted for hours, days, weeks, or months always came to an end. Knowing this, he could encourage others. It would seem his own experience led him to believe that depression was not a permanent condition,” according to Joshua Wolf Shenk author of Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness.

Lincoln, like many of the Millennial generation in today’s workforce, suffered from great insecurity as young man. Some believe it was because he was a homely man from a poor family while others think his strained relationship with a cold and distant father fueled the insecurity and depressions.

New research by British psychologists has labeled it the “Quarter-life Crisis”.  It is a time when educated 20- and 30- somethings are most likely hit by pre-midlife blues.

If you are a company owner or manager, these are many of your new-hires. They are the Millennials –a person reaching adulthood around 2000.

When I was their ages, I carried my Draft Card in my back pocket and lived through my undergraduate years in fear of having to go to fight in the Vietnam War if I failed my college courses.  It was also a time of the onset of my mental illness with major depressions initially that repeatedly paralyzed me and filled my head with thoughts of suicide. It was 23 years later that I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

I didn’t get professional help because of the stigma attached to mental illness.

I’m a Baby Boomer and the Millennials and I share a common history.  Instead of fearing the Draft and being sent to an unpopular and losing war, the Millennials have feared the uncertainty of whether there will be a job when they graduate and how they are going to pay off their mounting student loans.

You know by now that one in four of us will suffer from a mental health issue at some time in our lives. You may not know that seven out of 10 managers has managed someone with a diagnosed or suspected mental illness, according to a study by the Mental Health Foundation in Great Britain.

As I wrote in a previous blog post, most workers hide their mental illness finding it safer to observe the unspoken don’t ask don’t tell rule.

How do you help a colleague who you know is suffering from a mental illness such as clinical depression? Unless you have personal experience with depression, it is very hard to know what to say.

Unless you have a lot of patience, you may give up trying to help, which can lead to termination of your employee.One manager shared her experience:

"My team member suffered from stress over a period of approximately six months. …able to be in work, with occasional time off, the stress affected their performance and eventually they decided to leave the business. When I asked them if they felt we could have done anything differently, the only suggestion was the option of counselling. I fed this back to the management team to look at what we can do in the future."

It all begins with reducing stress in the high-pressure competitive world of business. Companies should be educating managers and all employees on how to reduce stress such as the program offered by Kelly Wellness Consulting I cited in an earlier blog post.

Reducing stress or educating our teams on how to manage stress is a worthwhile investment for all businesses. 50% of long term absences are due to mental ill health - this is more common than back pain, and there are simple ways for a business, no matter how small to get the basics right.

One easy step is to publish links to support and guidance and having a mental health policy.

“Stress can be defined as the way you feel when you’re worried about being able to cope. A moderate level of stress can better your performance by enabling you to respond to challenging situations, such as presentations or interviews. However, excessive or prolonged stress can lead to mental or physical health problems, which is why symptoms of stress must be tackled early,” explained  Dr. Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation.

Over 80% of the lost productive time costs are explained by reduced performance while at work, not work absence. Annual cost to American businesses reduced productivity is $35.7 billion, according to a study by the American Psychiatric Foundation. (See my post Mental Health and Productivity Are Your Employees Present and Accounted For? )

There’s a progressive effort in Scotland called See Me Scotland. According to a survey by the organization of 1,165 workers found 55 per cent thought that people would be unlikely to disclose a mental illness because it could result in being passed over for promotion or moved to another post.

Additionally, only 22 per cent thought that their co-workers had a good understanding of the importance of employee mental health. However, 83 per cent said they would want a better understanding if their colleague was experiencing mental health problems.

Stigma and discrimination in the workplace is a major issue and these figures show there is a significant problem with people being able to speak openly about mental health.

The cost to Scottish employers by not properly supporting employees with mental health conditions is considerable, approximately 1.5 Billion (U.S.) a year.

See Me says employers have a legal and moral responsibility to look after the health and wellbeing of everyone who works for them and it is important they know how staff are being treated.

“At See Me we want to change the cultures of workplaces in Scotland, so people can feel safe in speaking openly about their mental health.”

To do this the organization launched the See Me in Work program. Through it See Me is engaging with employers and supporting them in making changes to their work practices, to improve the working lives of employees with mental health problems.

It encourages an equal and fair recruitment process and ensures those returning to work following ill-health are fully supported.

“It's very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems.”

--Thich Nhat Hanh


 


Comments

08/14/2015 7:41am

Thank you for sharing this information, if you have suffered from depression, then you know how debilitating it can be. Just like diabetes or hypertension, depression is a real medical illness. It is not something that you can "just get over." I have suffered from depression all of my life and know how much someone can struggle from it.

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08/02/2016 5:53pm

We've all experienced being depressed. I was depressed too when I had family problems, my grades we're failing and my girlfriend cheated on me. But we can't let depression bring us down. Easy to say but hard to do right? My friend once told me that yes, I have big problems and I think the world is falling apart but think of it this way, Put yourself on other peoples shoes and some people have it worse. You just have to be thankful for your life. Depression is hard to battle but we can face it and be strong for us to move on with life and live happily.

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09/08/2016 9:22pm

In my opinions, I guess it starts while they are still studying. With all of the pressure in studying, trying to pass subjects, working on papers and thesis until the crack of dawn, the millennials are stressed. In fact, teenagers today have the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950’s. This is an alarming rate. And, by the time they have reached the age where they can now work, their anxieties starts to double up. I don't offer any solution because I can't find one, but I'd like to at least share the message to others.

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08/27/2015 5:37am

Yes notify lot of time when you hire someone they feel depressed due to not understand things, Fine to fab help their people with 7 secret to reduce depression and anxiety

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12/20/2016 5:37am

As a millennial, we often have a positive outlook and optimism during college and high school days. But when we get into the adult world, it's all fake. Little do we realize that that promised land is nothing but a fake painting. In the adult world, everything won't stop for us upon our entry. It's tragic to realize that we have to really start from the bottom and carve ourselves a mark for our name. And I think this epiphany is often the cause of depression among new millennials in the workforce.

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09/02/2015 11:30pm

The topic of the blog is great. It's for young and new employees who are new in their field and jobs. It's quite an impressive and motivational stuff on this topic. You have so much in Abraham Lincoln. It's a really great stuff. Thanks for sharing such information.

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09/16/2015 4:58am

Very nice content for my knowledge,thanks.

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I read the whole article and I am really happy to read this post regarding Abraham Lincoln. I would say that he is count in the greatest heroes of America due to mutually his implausible force on the US state.

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Everybody knows about the sixteenth President Abraham Lincoln because He was very brave and in his working period he won the bloodiest warfare along with good morals.

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11/04/2015 3:43am

The very employment anti-discrimination laws that were supposed to protect workers have actually hindered them.

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11/09/2015 11:23pm

Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth (I trust) President of America. He liberated the slaves by marking the Emancipation Proclamation. He grew up poor in a log lodge and taught himself to peruse, and so forth.

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11/16/2015 1:36am

There are so many issues in this world which are faced by the young generation of this time. Unemployment is one of the most important issues of this time. There are so many people who want to do work but they don’t get job.

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11/18/2015 6:58pm

Thanks for sharing helpful information, I really like your all post. I will bookmark your blog for future updates.

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11/27/2015 11:20pm

Very impressive blog thanks for share this with us.

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04/19/2016 4:17am

I want to thank you for posting such an educational blog. And also will wait for your next post.

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03/06/2017 11:30pm

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05/31/2017 5:25pm

A person gets depressed because of an excessive pressure. They can not control their mind so that stress occurs. By trying to relax and calm our minds, I'm sure we can calm down from the depression. A businessperson usually experiences a lot of stress because of work, because of the debt they lend or maybe they have. Debt collection services have now grown, they have the best system for collecting your debts. Want to know more information, please visit this site www.credifin-nederland.nl to get more information.

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06/16/2017 7:41pm

thanks

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