Creating Safe Space for Employees with Depression

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Creating Safe Space for Employees with Depression

Creating Safe Space for Employees with Depression With JM Dela Rama

Sean: From Mich. How can employers manage depression in the workplace? Perfect question for you, JM. How can employers qualify feelings of sadness as reasons for employees not being able to come to work?  

JM: Okay. So this is very important, especially nowadays wherein a lot of people are really going through a lot of mental challenges especially people who are working from home. So I think one of the things that I can give as an example, I know someone from Australia and they have in a week, they have that one wherein they really ask questions to their colleagues and to their employers as well. Like, how are you doing today? And they really have a lot of time to answer that question.

So I think just also having that time in order for your employees to have that safe space for them to let you know what’s going on in their lives. It’s very important to manage depression even before it starts. Meanwhile, when there is already depression, it actually depends on the level of depression. There is depression that is still normal. “Normal.” But there are depression as well where it’s already considered clinical depression.

So when it comes to clinical depression, you need to be able to consult a professional already, a professional help for that in order to help your employees and in order to manage depression. Besides what I mentioned earlier, what’s important, not just for the employees, but for the employers as well is for you to really take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. So make sure that there’s support for that as well for them to be able to know that there’s support from the company. And there’s also a way for you to help them.

For instance, having an event. For your employees in order for them to be able, just to know if they’re already going through depression. Something like that. So there’s a lot of things actually with depression, Sean. And just a few things in order for you to know if you’re going through depression, is that there are extremes. Okay? So if there’s already extreme things in your life that are going on for more than two weeks already. Like if either you eat a lot or you don’t have an appetite. Okay? Two extremes or you just want to sleep. All day, you just want to sleep or you couldn’t sleep. So extreme things. And if there’s no longer passion to do the same things that you ought to enjoy before. So those are just some of the things that you can look for, a sign if you are having depression already, or if your employee is having a depression already. So I hope that helps.

Sean: That really does. I’m not the expert when it comes to depression. We’ve had a couple of people struggling with this actually. I wouldn’t say I’m the most brilliant help they’ve ever gotten. But what I do believe about this topic, which is a sensitive topic, is that a lot of people tend to not feed their spirit. You know, it might be hard teaching to hear coming from me, but people who have faith, you know, who believe in God and believe in the spirit will understand what I mean.

We’re not just meat and bones. We’re thinking beings with a spirit. We consider the heart and the brain as important parts of our functioning bodies. The spirit is also a very important organ that’s invisible. You can’t see it, but it is as important as your heart and as important as your brain. And the spirit needs to be fed so it has kind of like an appetite, like your stomach. And if it is not fed, I think that is where the depression creeps in because you lose the appetite to live. Life becomes bland. It’s lackluster.

It could be a slew of different triggers, but I think the root cause is always you’re poor in spirit. You haven’t fed your spirit. You haven’t had the time to pause and think about what you lack in terms of faith, in terms of your walk with God, in terms of your personal growth and improvement. And a lot of people who struggled with depression, I believe, spend a lot of time not thinking.

We have, as a generation, lost our ability to think, really think. And sadly that’s because of the advent of the internet and unlimited entertainment that we have. We just don’t need to think. We can be entertained 24/7 today. And that I think contributes to the spirit of depression. I can’t really say much about it, but what I do know is part of it, maybe a good part of it is about the spirit. And you have to feed your spirit.

JM: Sean, like what you said, I think all of us were a tripartite man. Right? We have body, soul and spirit. So just like what you mentioned, it’s very important for us to feed those three, especially the spiritual part as well. I just want to quickly add onto that as well.

With depression, the triggers of that are the different seasons that someone goes through or the transitions. With all of us it’s possible. Okay? It’s possible for someone to go through depression because of the transitions that we’re going through right now. So what Sean is saying is that you need to really take care of your spiritual man as well, and as well as your physical man, and of course your soul as well. So that’s your heart, your will, and at the same time, your emotion. So you need to be able to manage all of those.

But if you’re going through a depression, even king David went through depression. Right, Sean?

Sean: Yes.

JM: A lot of people in the Bible as well, but what helped them was really clinging on to God and being honest. Like, “Lord, I’m feeling this. I’m going through this. Can you help me?” And so, you know, it’s okay. If you’re going through depression, pray. Pray to God and just cry out to Him.

Sean: Good addition to that. Yeah. Even the King, you know, one of the most powerful Kings during their time is King David and he felt depressed. A lot of problems, family stuff, and he sat down and he wrote about it, right? “My bones are being warned out.” Everything. His spirit seemed to be drained and he cried out to God. Really good stuff. That’s something that I would most probably do when I feel depressed or when I don’t feel good, and I don’t feel okay in my spirit.

Follow up question from Mich. Some creative thinkers draw inspiration from feelings of hurt and they end up producing good work. However, for others, those are stoppers. How can one be productive when depressed or unmotivated? I think I’ll let you take this one first, JM. 

JM: Okay. I can relate with that question, Sean. Because there are times wherein my place of hurt will be my place wherein I will mostly be creative as well. But there are times wherein it’s actually one of those major things that can stop me as well. And one of the things that I learned is that the thing that can stop me is fear. What about fear? It could be fear of going back to that pain while you’re creating something good out of it or number two, fear also about what other people would say.

So I think it’s very important that number one, you recognize what’s stopping you. And number two, be courageous because you’ll never know. You’ll never know whom you’re going to help with the creativity that you’ll be able to draw from that hurt. And I just want you to know also that if you’re hurting right now, please don’t get stuck there. Okay?

I like the question of Mich, because it’s like an encouragement that if you are in a place of hurt right now, turn it to something good. Turn it to something that can serve God and others. I think that’s how you can be productive when you’re depressed or unmotivated and that is to really create something that will serve not just yourself and the pain that you’re going through, but really thinking about how it can also help the other people around you.

Sean: Really good stuff. I mean, I couldn’t say it better. If I’m going to have to add to this, personally for me, if I am in a bad place, I’m more of paralyzed and not productive at all. But I do agree that a lot of people write songs when they’re in a place of despair, depression, or hurt or loss. You know, the hymn, Amazing Grace, was actually written by a guy who lost his family in a shipwreck.

So it takes a huge amount of spirit, I guess, to be able to still produce that kind of work while you’re in your toughest moments. I don’t think I’m there yet in terms of having that kind of spirit. But I hope that when that hits, I will learn to be that way.

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