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Since I started focusing on Mind Health Matters on a professional level the question of when and where and who to disclose to has shown up again and again.
I want to believe that we are all open-minded and well-educated enough that disclosure about a mood disorder would at best result in compassionate understanding or nothing more than curious conversations about the emotional or possible physical impacts and how the situation can be best managed by all involved. And at worst that it might involve a conversation to bring someone up to speed about the what and whys of a particular situation.
However, recently I was asked how a person like me… intelligent, educated, great friends, long term relationships, well housed and fed, well-educated and living in Australia where we can cross the road without being shot at could get depression? And given that this question came from a well-educated, professional person it reminded me that here in Australia we have a long way to go with respect to awareness, education and removing the stigma associated with mind health matters.
So for those of you that may be unaware of the three medically recognised causes of mood disorders, they are:
- Mood disorders can be hereditary
- Stress can be a major contributor to depression
- Brain chemistry, neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals can function ineffectively
Back to disclosure… There can be some wonderful benefits for disclosing outside of work: great awareness, more support, deeper understanding, and more trusting open relationships. Similarly, there can be some great benefits of disclosing at work: greater flexibility in working hours and conditions when your symptoms are at their worst, more supportive colleagues and developing greater loyalty when your trust in your boss is reciprocated.
But it is not all sunshine and roses. People with limited or no understanding of the productivity and effectiveness of people who manage their mood disorders effectively are often limited in their capacity to understand and work around the challenges that may occur from time to time. The downside of disclosure can come in the form of social isolation, loss of promotion opportunities or targeted, yet denied, redundancies.
And then there is the challenge of disclosing to people who are unaware of what to do. Over the last year I have had several examples of people in distress, feeling like they have no other option but to disclose their suicidal mindset in the work place. And to date in every instance the person to which they disclosure has been made has not felt equipped to deal with the situation.
So as the likelihood of people being more comfortable disclosing or feeling like they have nowhere else to go for help and disclosing in the workplace the need for each of us to be up to date with ways to access help for those in need as well as feel well equipped to handle the situation increases. You don’t need lengthy psychological training… you want to be best placed to know which immediate actions to take and how to assist the person to find the appropriate support.
Disclosure is and ought remain a personal decision. Each person is best placed to weigh up the situation in their personal and work life and look for the indicators that might suggest supportive people and a supportive work place!
And if you or your workplace want to be ready to handle these potential situation and minimise their impact then give me a call to find out more!
Because your Mind Health Matters…