On the 27th of November, 2019, I attended a Scientific conference of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) which was held in Edo State, Nigeria. I was a special delegate at the conference, not because I was a special guest of honour or recognized dignitary, but because I was a medical student whose presence meant a lot to the organizers. We were almost always “busy” and to have us around must be a thing of honour and utmost respect.
However, another fascinating thing about the conference other than the warm receipt was the choice of theme about “workplace depression”. Depression in the workplace is one thing that is not gaining enough recognition despite the problems associated with it. The association of medical and dental consultants termed this conference the 1st Biennial General Meeting and Scientific Conference and thought rightly that workplace depression would be the best subject for the day.
In this post, you will see some thoughts I drew from the conference, as well as from my own personal research and study on how to prevent depression in the workplace. But before then, what is depression?
What is Depression?
Depression is a mental condition characterised by low mood, decreased energy, and general loss of interest. It is one of the commonest psychiatric conditions, affecting almost everyone in the world. According to WHODepression – WHO, 5% of adults suffer from depression globally accounting for approximately 280 million people in the world. Depression has its roots in biological and neurochemical mechanisms within the brain, but it also has a strong causal link with social or day-to-day experiences.
Depression in the workplace
Depression in the workplace has one of the most under-reported cases, especially in developing countries of the world like Nigeria. Professionals in the workplace, including doctors and other health workers, are constantly exposed to social and physical hazards that may predispose them to depression. In 2017, a doctor in Nigeria intentionally jumped into a lagoon taking his own life.Doctor commits suicide; jumps into Lagos lagoon – The Guardian Nigeria News That same year, two other women were luckily rescued by local fishermen after jumping into the same lagoon.Suicide: Two women stopped from jumping into Lagos Lagoon – The Nation Newspaper
Suicidality is an integral component of depression because depression makes one feel hopeless and bleak about life. However, while several factors like the loss of a loved one, financial crises, and chronic illness can lead to depression, other stressors, including those encountered in the workplace can also predispose to depression. The frequent occurrence of suicidal ‘jumping into the lagoon’ among others heralded a need to talk more about depression, especially depression arising from the workplace experience.
Causes of Depression in the Workplace
Taking a case study of doctors, especially those in developing countries of the world, the doctor has to look after other people through the administration of medical care, in an epidemic or period of high-rising cases, patients number easily outweigh doctors, doctors in developing nations have very low doctor-patients ratio, and they also have their own personal and family health to look after. All these cause a significant amount of stress for the doctor.
But this is not peculiar to only the doctor. Almost every workplace gives some kind of stress to the worker, so much so that it would be insensitive to not talk about these stressors and find ways to ameliorate them.
Below are some causes of depression in the workplace.
1. Too much workload
The feeling of excessive workload can be experienced in any organization where workers are fewer than the jobs. Employers try to employ as many workers as can to get the work done efficiently and effectively, however, the budget for adequate staffing may overwhelm what the employer is willing and able to bear. This results in work overload for the few workers available, and it can predispose them to depression.
Again, using doctors as a case study, the doctor-patient ratio is the tool used in accessing the burden of patients on doctors in any given country. Developing countries of the world have alarming values that could potentially lead to a higher predisposition to depression. For example, in Nigeria, the recent doctor-patient ratio is 1 to 6,000 patients. That is, one doctor sees 6000 patients in a year, which has now risen from 1 to 10,000 from 2017 to 2022, compared to the ideal value of 1 to 600.
Workloads in the workplace make the working experience feel like a war zone experience. Workers literally battle every day, between doing their tedious jobs and maintaining intact mental health. This can predispose to depression in the workplace.
2. Poor financial remuneration
Financial remunerations in the form of salaries and wages offer the best motivation to the worker. It then becomes extremely important that they are paid adequately and timely. Poor financial remuneration can compound the stress inherent in the workplace, and this can lead to depression.
Employers and the government should make and implement policies that protect and guarantees adequate and timely salary and wages to workers in the workplace. This can go a long way to prevent depression in the workplace.
3. Hostile interpersonal relationships in the workplace
This is also one significant precipitant of workplace depression. A lot of stressors can already be seen in the workplace, as discussed above. The aim of establishing good interpersonal relationships and communication in the workplace is to help relieve the tension and set in an atmosphere of friendliness and collaboration.
Senior employees/supervisors should create an atmosphere of tranquillity and mutual understanding. People should be given an opportunity to rest or have time to take care of their own health when they absolutely merit such treatments. With proper communication, properly conveying the message to the rest of the team, and having a leader who is a good listener, employers would be able to know when to grant special permits and when not to.
In the absence of these in the workplace, the level of stress increases and this can predispose to workplace depression. At the conference, the keynote speaker also emphasized the role of two-way communication between seniors and junior workers, in this case, doctors; such that they are able to reach out to the seniors when they have some complicated challenges in hand.
4. Adverse working conditions
Several adverse working conditions have been lightly talked about in the previous subheadings, however, there are a few other adverse working conditions that can contribute to the development of depression in the workplace. These include air pollution, noise pollution, and lack of working implements and instruments for work, amongst others.
Stress is the number predisposing factor for workplace depression, and it can be of one of many different forms including physical stress, emotional, and psychological stress. The employer and employees should put in place measures to manage stress in the workplace to curb workplace depression.
Recommended Tips for Preventing Workplace Depression
Preventing workplace depression requires efforts from administrators, managers, employers, as well as the workers themselves. The following recommended tips are useful for preventing depression in the workplace.
1. Administrators should prioritise their workers’ health
Administrators, employers, and senior workers should make efforts to draw closer to their subordinates physically and emotionally to understand their peculiar physical and health needs. They should demonstrate empathy and understanding when approached by the employees and junior colleagues about a pressing issue bordering on their health and wellbeing.
2. Workers should prioritize their own health
No one cares for you better than you care for yourself. It is of utmost importance to prioritize your own health in the workplace to avoid lapsing into serious illness or getting depressed. You don’t have to do so rudely, impolitely, or dubiously, as if to avoid work, but you need to know when you are exceeding your limits in terms of your health and communicate it politely to your boss.
In the health sector, doctors take care of patients on a daily basis, but some of them ignore their own health and bear through ill health which is not supposed to be the case. Even while your boss expects you to be the untired horse, you need to know when to give it a break both on a daily basis and for longer periods.
3. Foster good interpersonal relationships and communication
Again, those laughs and cheerfulness in the workplace go a long to reinforce good mental health among workers. When it’s time to work, put your best into it, and it’s time to play, don’t resist it. Remember, all work and no play, makes jack a dull boy.
Certain people rely on hard substances to feel good when they can readily feel so simply by engaging in friendly conversations and relationships. The latter, also without the consequences of substance addiction.
4. Good financial remuneration
Good financial remuneration is important to improve workers’ satisfaction in the workplace. This goes a long way to make them put their best into the job as well as prevent depression resulting from emotional, physical, and then financial stress. Periodically, employers should give their employees a raise to further motivate them to stay happy and satisfied in the workplace. Satisfaction of the heart keeps one hopeful and can also help keep depression away from workers.
Depression in the workplace is largely preventable when everything necessary is put in place. This includes building interpersonal relationships and communication, among others discussed in this post. The subject was talked about at the MDCAN conference and highlighted in this post to stress the importance of preventing workplace depression, considering that stressors in the workplace can predispose to depression.
Hi there to all, it’s actually a fastidious for me to pay a quick visit this site, it consists of
What’s up all, here every person is sharing such experience, so it’s nice to
read this website, and I used to pay a quick visit this weblog every day.
Very good site you have here but I was curious
if you knew of any forums that cover the same topics talked about here?
I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get feed-back from other knowledgeable individuals that
share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me
know. Thank you!
Stop by my web-site; edgaruyzbd(dot)weblogco(dot)com
If someone desires to be updated with the most recent information, then he must come to see this site and be up to date every day.