It’s that time of year, again—the holiday excitement has died down, the days are shorter and the weather colder, a perfect storm for Seasonal Affective Disorder. The mental health condition has been tied to hormonal changes caused by decreased daylight, which can impact energy and mood, setting off side effects like insomnia, fatigue and persistent sadness. While therapy and exercise can help people suffering from SAD, handling seasonal depression at work presents another set of challenges.
Mental health is still a highly stigmatized subject in many workplaces, so employees battling SAD may likely try to check their feelings at the door to the office; however, like any mental health condition, SAD can’t be turned off on command. That’s why it’s imperative for employers to proactively consider how to handle seasonal depression at work.
Regardless of whether employees exhibit signs of depression—such as reduced productivity, trouble with concentration and avoidance of social interaction—employers should make sure their workers know help is available. Actively promote an employee-assistance program, and inform all employees about the benefits of therapy and counseling, to ensure they know what the resources are and that the company doesn’t stigmatize seeking help. Seasonal depression at work can also be eased by some of the same tactics that help people once they’re out of the office—exercise, and healthy eating and drinking habits—so employers can tailor wellness programs to these goals, such as organizing step challenges and offering free, nutritious meals.
Provide Help to Employees
There are also innovative initiatives employers can start, such as bringing in therapy dogs. Therapeutic dog services, such as those offered by Critical Incidents Employer Services have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression and improve long-term health. Those benefits for employees suffering seasonal depression at work are also connected to wider business goals—as better employee health and satisfaction is linked to increased productivity, reduced turnover, better collaboration and an overall enhanced workplace culture.
Seasonal depression at work is a very real issue affecting countless employees, and their employers. With a proactive, values-driven, employee-centric approach, however, employers can get ahead of the problem and help all workers bring their best selves to the job. Contact Critical Incidents Employer Services today if you’re looking for help at your company.