News // May 03, 2014

Mental Health in the Workplace

Living well isn’t just about physical health.  It’s also about mental health.  During May is Mental Health Month and throughout the year, the County of San Diego and community partners are raising awareness about stress and depression in the workplace and working to demystify symptoms and treatments to give San Diegans the information they need to seek help.

When you're dealing with stress and depression, you may feel like you're "in a fog."  You just don't feel like yourself.  Just as depression impacts many other aspects of life, work performance and productivity are almost always negatively affected, too.

Did you know mental illnesses such as depression cause more days of work loss and work impairment compared to any other chronic health condition, including arthritis, asthma, back pain, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease?

Individuals suffering from depression are twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease, twice as likely to have a stroke and more than four times as likely to die within six months of having a heart attack.  This is why it’s so important to identify and treat depression. 

How does depression look to others?

What depression feels like How it looks to co-workers
Slowed thoughts and difficulty thinking Poor quality work
Lack of concentration Procrastination, accidents on the job
Forgetfulness and difficulty remembering Poor quality work
Trouble making decisions Procrastination, indecisiveness, slowed productivity
Reduced interest, low motivation Presenteeism – "just showing up"
Self-medication Missed deadlines, absenteeism
Irritability, anger, tearfulness, upset Poor relationships with co-workers, boss, clients; low morale in the workplace
Sleep disturbance, can't get going in the a.m. Late to work


The most important thing is to seek help and not ignore the problem.

It is a sign of strength to reach out for help when you or a loved one needs it.  You are not alone.  Help is all around. 

Here are some ideas:

  • Talk to your primary care physician.  Often times, a primary care doctor is the only one you need to see.  It is a first step to find out if you may need the additional help of a behavioral health professional.
  • If you or someone you care about needs to speak to someone or is in crisis and needs immediate help, please call the Access & Crisis Line at 888-724-7240.  Not only do they have counselors who can help with your immediate needs, but they also have a full information and referral service to help you locate appropriate and conveniently located services.  As always, if you have an emergency, you should call 9-1-1.
  • Check your employee benefits program to learn more about your options, including any required processes for seeking specialty care, such as a referral.  Many companies offer confidential employee assistance programs (EAP) which provide free or low-cost behavioral health services.
  • For general information on behavioral health, visit the “It’s Up to Us” website.

Be sure to follow the instructions your medical providers give you, including making appointments for monitoring and follow-up. If you are prescribed a medication, make sure you take it as directed by your physician.

Information for this article was taken from “Partnership for Workplace Mental Health,” a program of the American Psychiatric Foundation and “Employers Health Coalition, Inc.”  Together, they created a first-of-its-kind educational initiative for the workplace to decrease stigma associated with depression, a leading cause of lost productivity.  Visit their website to learn more.