Understanding Depression

What do these three people have in common?

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Like more than 300 million people all over the world, these famous people struggle with depression. As a matter of fact, 1 out of 20 people you know may suffer from depression, while 5 of them may experience symptoms. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Having depression can lead to:

  • Poor functioning at work and in the family
  • Emotional outbursts and strained relationships
  • Physical illness
  • Suicide

When depression is long-lasting and with moderate or severe intensity, it may become a serious health condition. It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work, at school and in the family. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in people aged 15 to 29 years old.

So what does depression look like?

  1. Physical symptoms:
    • Sick and run down
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Poor appetite
    • Muscle pains
    • Weight loss
    • Tired
  2. Thoughts:
    • “Nothing good ever happens to me.”
    • “Life is not worth living.”
    • “My future looks bleak.”
    • “I’m worthless.”
    • “It’s my fault.”
    • “I’m a failure.”
  3. Feelings:
    • Overwhelmed
    • Unhappy
    • Irritable
    • Frustrated
    • Lacking confidence
    • Indecisive
  4. Behaviors:
    • Withdraws from others.
    • Doesn’t get things done.
    • Stops doing enjoyable activities.
    • Has difficulty concentrating.
    • Increases alcohol consumption.

People with depression need help from others but they may fear being judged, ridiculed, or labeled as mentally ill. Worse yet is when others dismiss their feelings and struggles as being “overly dramatic,” “just a phase,” or “attention-seeking.” To help someone who suffers from depression, it is important that you become someone they can feel safe to talk out to.

  1. Reach out to them. Approaching someone who you think is suffering from depression can be daunting and most people will have the urge to avoid the issue all together. You may not know what to say, you may be worried about saying the wrong thing, or you may just not understand depression at all. But that is okay. It is understandable to have difficulty tackling a very sensitive topic. The best way to start a conversation or to reach out to someone who is suffering from depression, is to ask them if they are okay. Pick a private place to talk face to face. Allow yourselves plenty of time to have this conversation and try to save your advice for later. As much as possible, stick to open-ended questions like “How are you feeling?”
  2. Listen. It is important to give your friend space to talk about their experience. Listen without judgment and try to refrain yourself from changing the subject or offering a solution. Let them know that you are there for them and that you want to understand what they are going through. Show that you are able to empathize with them, you encourage their recovery, and that you are supporting them throughout this experience. It helps them when they feel that they are understood, supported, and validated.
  3. Make plans to do something together. Making plans together shows that you are willing to physically be there for them and that you are willing to help them cope with what they are feeling. It would also help to find resources together. Looking for mental health professionals can be a daunting task. Doing it together may make it easier to accomplish. This way, the two of you will not have to go through it alone and you can get help from someone who is trained to handle this particular issue.

If, however, you are someone who is suffering from depression or is experiencing symptoms of depression, always remember that:

  • Depression is a real illness that is caused by biological and psychological factors.
  • Depression can be easily treated.
  • Depression is easier to treat when you get help as early as possible.

So do not be afraid to reach out!

If you work in a company which does not yet have a mental health program, we may be able to help.  PowerVision provides workplace counseling services or Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to companies in the Philippines. We help employees deal with personal and work-related issues that impact their performance. Contact us today for details.

References:

 

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Work Burnout

Burnout is characterized by emotional exhaustion, detachment, and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment. Although it is not considered a mental illness, work burnout is still a mental health issue because of its growing impact on employees. Work burnout can affect both the health and job performance of employees at any level of an organization.

There are many factors that contribute to burnout. However, burnout is more likely to happen when employees:

  • Have high expectations of themselves.
  • Feel incompetent or have feelings of inadequacy.
  • Feel unappreciated.
  • Feel that the demands at work are unreasonable.
  • Feel that they are not fit for the job.

Most of the time, employees may not realize that they are experiencing burnout. Every day, employees encounter all kinds of stress. It may be difficult to distinguish regular stress from burnout. However, burnout, unlike stress, includes feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, or apathy. It can also lead to negative impacts on their performance, such as an increase in errors or a decrease in productivity. If left unaddressed, burnout may also lead to other illnesses, such as clinical depression. Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Less efficiency and energy
  • Less motivation
  • Increased errors
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Increased frustration
  • Suspiciousness
  • Self-doubt
  • Sarcasm and negativity
  • Substance abuse
  • Poor physical health
  • Clinical depression
  • Reduced job satisfaction
  • Increased absenteeism

Burnout negatively impacts the quality of a person’s life and can be distressing. It has been linked to various stress-related physical and mental health problems. It also impacts the quality of work of a person and the services that they provide. It is important to recognize these signs and symptoms so that they can be addressed and help employees recover from burnout. According to research, there are four strategies of self-care that can help prevent burnout:

  1. Maintain a sense of control. Having a sense of control of the situation can help a person deal with stress better. Oftentimes, burnout is also caused by working long hours or having too much workload. To get a sense of control over a seemingly overwhelming situation or task, it helps to break it down into smaller achievable parts. Focusing on one thing at a time is helpful in keeping us from being too overwhelmed or stressed out about all the things that have to be done. Breaking the tasks or projects into smaller parts also makes it easier to achieve and gives us a sense of accomplishment.
  2. Reflect on satisfying experiences at work. Focusing on good work experiences helps us maintain a positive attitude about work. Remembering what we like about work or why we enjoy it helps us balance our perspective and lifts our mood. This motivates and energizes us, which reduces the risk of
  3. Maintain a balance between personal and professional lives. Maintaining work-life balance is important as well. Minimizing the demands of work and family or personal life helps reduce the stresses that we encounter. It also helps us gather resources outside of work, such as support from friends and family, and hobbies or interests. Having these resources may help reduce the risk for burnout as well.
  4. Maintain self-awareness or self-monitoring. Mindfulness is also very helpful in taking care of our mental health. It is important to be aware of our current state and well-being. Constantly monitoring and being aware of our health makes it easier to know if there is something wrong. When we are aware of how we feel, both mind and body, it will be easier to know what we need to do to make ourselves feel better and healthier.

PowerVision can help employers and companies provide the support employees need to prevent work burnout. We provide Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) or workplace counseling services to help employees deal with personal and work-related issues that may impact their job performance. Our employee assistance programs include face to face counseling sessions and 24/7 phone counseling services. We also provide educational talks and workshops that can help educate employees on how to care for their mental health and prevent work burnout. Contact us for more information!

References:

Rupert, P.A., Miller, A.O., & Dorociak, K.R. (2015). “Preventing Burnout: What Does the Research Tell Us?” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 46(3), 168-174. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0039297.

Workplace Strategies for Mental Health. (n.d.) “Burnout Response.” Retrieved from https://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/managing-workplace-issues/burnout-response

Prevent Suicide and Save Lives

Suicide is a serious health issue that needs our attention. It is the third leading cause of death in the world. It is estimated that one million people die by suicide every year. That is one death by suicide every 40 seconds. Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress. It is not a harmless bid for attention and should not be ignored. It affects people of all genders, ages, and ethnicities. And what is worse is that it is preventable. Every 10th of September is Suicide Prevention Day. It is on this day that we take the opportunity to spread awareness about suicide and what people can do to help prevent it from happening.

To prevent suicide, we should be aware of the risk factors and warning signs to look out for. There is no single cause for suicide. There are different factors that influence someone to make a suicide attempt. Here are a few factors that can tell us who are most at risk for developing suicidal ideation:

suicide risk factors

Having these factors does not mean that they automatically contemplate suicide. This just means that the more risk factors that apply to them, the higher the chances are that they can develop suicidal ideation and that it would be better to check on them from time to time.

Another important factor to watch out for are the warning signs. These signs tell us that a person is already contemplating suicide and who needs our most immediate help.

suicide warning signs

If you think someone is contemplating suicide, do not panic! Here is what you can do:

  1. Ask them. Most of the time, asking the person if they are thinking of suicide is already a big help. Not only will this inform you of how serious the situation is, it also helps the person to express his or her emotions. Just simply expressing his or her emotions and having you to listen can save that person’s life.
  2. It is important that you empathize. Do not judge them or leave them alone. Listen carefully and learn what that person is thinking and feeling. Researchers suggest that acknowledging and talking about suicide reduces suicidal thoughts.
  3. Keep them safe. It is also important that you reduce their access to means of harming themselves. Reduce their access to highly lethal items, substances, or places. Make sure that his or her environment is safe.
  4. Stay connected. Simply checking in on how people are from time to time can also save lives. Ask them how they are, what they are doing, what is going on in their life, if they have any problems, or if they need any help. Studies have shown that the risk of death by suicide decreases when someone follows up with an at-risk person. This means that you can make a difference!
  5. Encourage them to reach out. This is the most important step. If you think someone is contemplating suicide, encourage them to reach out to a trusted family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional.

Availing of a program with PowerVision EAP can help companies facilitate at-risk employees’ access to mental health services.  We can provide face to face counseling sessions and 24/7 phone counseling to help at-risk employees deal with their suicidal thoughts and behaviors.  We also assist our clients in preparing for and handling crisis situations such as suicide, workplace violence, disasters, and individual traumatic incidents. Providing these services to employees not only helps their mental health but can save their lives as well. Contact us for more information!

 

References:

 

#StoptheSTIGMA

One in five Filipinos suffers from a form of mental illness. In 2016, anxiety is the most prevalent mental illness in the Philippines. This is followed by depression, substance use disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and eating disorders. And yet, a lot of people are still unaware of the issues surrounding mental health. Because of this, there is still a lot of stigma and discrimination towards those who are living with mental health problems. Common responses towards mental illness are “Nasa isip mo lang iyan” or “Gawa-gawa lang iyan.”

Unfortunately, stigma and discrimination prevent people from seeking the help that they need. Misconceptions towards those who are mentally ill bring them shame and cause them to hide their problems. For example, when people say that the depression that an individual is experiencing is “gawa-gawa lang,” this causes that individual to think that what he or she is experiencing is not real, or that what he or she is experiencing is somehow his or her fault or doing. This prevents that person with depression to seek help because he or she thinks that it is not real.

stigma

What can you do to change this?

  • Offer your support to those who are struggling. Lend a shoulder or an ear. It is important for those who are living with mental illness to have a support system. Just being a friend who is willing to listen can already help a lot.
  • Choose empowerment over shame. Empower yourself and others rather than shame them for their mental health condition. Shaming them will prevent them from seeking the help that they need. Empowering them will not only encourage them to seek help, but it will also give them hope and encourage them to overcome these challenges.
  • See the person, not the illness. A person is not defined by his or her mental health condition. Instead of focusing on the person’s illness, see the person for who he or she is: A person who more than his or her mental health condition.
  • Be open to conversations about mental health. For those who are living with mental illness, do not be afraid or ashamed to talk about what it is like. And for those who are not living with mental illness, do not be afraid to listen. Meeting people who are living with a mental health condition or people who are experts in the field and listening to them helps us understand each other and corrects all those stereotypes and misconceptions about mental health.
  • Use respectful language. Language matters. The way you speak also affects the way you think. So, framing your language to be more respectful and to address the person rather than the illness will help change the way we perceive mental health and those who are living with mental illness. respectful language
  • Learn about mental health to educate yourself and others. Never stop learning. The lack of knowledge feeds our fear and our misconceptions. Use every opportunity to learn what you can about mental health and share that knowledge with others.
  • Take action to raise awareness. There are many ways you can take action to raise awareness online and offline. Search for resources and opportunities around you to help raise awareness on mental health and fight the stigma.
  • Be an advocate for positive change. Include mental health awareness and support in your daily life, whether it is at work or at home.

PowerVision can help employers and companies stop mental health stigma through our educational talks and workshops. We also provide Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) or workplace counseling services to help employees deal with personal and work-related issues that impact their performance. Contact us for more information.

References:

The Philippine Mental Health Law and What It Means For Your Company

Reports say that 1 in 5 Filipino adults suffer from a form of mental illness. In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that an average of 7 Filipinos died by suicide each day. These statistics are certainly alarming. But it is not all bad news because last Jun 21st, President Duterte finally signed the Mental Health Law, providing Filipinos with affordable and accessible mental health services. But what does that mean for companies and employers?

Chapter V, Sec. 25 of the Mental Health Law states that:

“Employers shall develop appropriate policies and programs on mental health in the workplace designed to (1) raise awareness on mental health issues; (2) correct the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health conditions; (3) identify and provide support for individuals at risk; and (4) facilitate access of individuals with mental health conditions to treatment and psychosocial support.”

The Mental Health Law does not only cover public mental health services, but it also covers the promotion of mental health and policies in the workplace. So, what can you do as an employer, or a company, to implement this? Here is what we suggest:

1. Raise Awareness on Mental Health Issues

A lot of people are unaware of mental health issues and how they affect us. It is important to remember that mental health is more than the absence of a mental disorder. You do not have to be diagnosed with a disorder for you to say that you have a mental health problem. And not all mental health problems mean that you automatically have a mental disorder. Stress, burnout, grief, communication, and interpersonal problems are some forms of mental health issues that can affect an individual’s functioning. Various mental health problems can affect employees and businesses through increased absenteeism and reduced production. Raising awareness about mental health can help prevent and address these issues.

PowerVision EAP can help employers and companies raise awareness about these issues through our educational talks and workshops. Aside from raising awareness, our talks and workshops can also help employees handle life’s common issues before they blow up into bigger problems. Our services can provide employees with insight and awareness about the mental health of others and their own as well.

2. Correct the Stigma and Discrimination Associated with Mental Health Conditions

The lack of awareness of mental health issues also means a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about these issues and the people who have them. Some people believe that mental health problems cannot be treated, that mental health problems are a personal weakness, that mental health problems are not real, or that it is something to be hidden or kept a secret from others. A common Filipino response towards mental health would be, “Nasa isip mo lang iyan.” Unfortunately, these stigmatizing attitudes not only results in discrimination in the workplace, but it can also cause shame and prevent people from seeking help.

PowerVision EAP can also help employers and companies correct the stigma through our talks and workshops. We also extend our expertise to client managers, supervisors, and HR personnel through consultations on handling troubled employees. Through these consultations and workshops, we can work together with you to better understand mental health and how to effectively handle those who suffer from mental health problems.

3. Identify and Provide Support for Individuals at Risk

It is important to recognize the various risk factors and individuals who may be at risk so that we can provide the necessary support that they need. Risk factors include a complex combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. For example, some risk factors at work can include:

  • Excessive workload
  • Insufficient work
  • Role conflict
  • Lack of recognition of work
  • Low status
  • Inadequate social support in the workplace
  • The perception that the workplace is not just or equitable
  • Unsupportive supervision
  • Poor relationships with colleagues
  • Bullying, harassment, or violence
  • Isolated or solitary work
  • Irregular working hours
  • Poor communication
  • Poor leadership
  • Conflicting demands at home and at work
  • Lack of support for home at work, and vice versa

Employers and companies can provide support for their employees by maintaining a stress-free work environment. Employees can also anonymously avail short-term counseling interventions from PowerVision EAP for any personal and work-related concerns. PowerVision EAP counselors can help employees enhance their life skills through coaching. We also have legal and financial consultants that can provide employees with helpful information to plan their next steps on personal and family concerns that involve financial and legal issues. Depending on the program that you choose for your company, our services may also be extended to cover the dependents of your employees. Aside from that, PowerVision also assists EAP clients in preparing for and handling crisis situations, such as workplace violence, suicide, disasters, and individual traumatic incidents.

4. Facilitate access of individuals with mental health conditions to treatment and psychosocial support.

Availing a program with PowerVision EAP can help you facilitate your employees’ access to mental health services. PowerVision can provide face to face counseling sessions and 24/7 phone counseling to help employees deal with personal and work-related issues that impact their performance. Providing these services to your employees can help their mental health, as well as improve their attendance and performance at work. Contact us for more information!

References:

Mental Health of Fathers

The transition to parenthood is a very important life event for everyone. It is a complex process that requires adjustment to the profound changes in a person’s lifestyle, relationships, and identity. Sometimes, a new parent may have difficulty coping with this transition, which leads to psychological disturbances like Postpartum Depression (PPD).

Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a mood episode that happens either during pregnancy or after pregnancy. It is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • persistent sadness
  • anxiety
  • low esteem
  • irritability
  • sleep & appetite changes
  • guilt
  • insomnia
  • suicidal ideation
  • loneliness
  • dysphoria

PPD is usually known to be associated with mothers, affecting 10 to 13% of women worldwide. It makes it difficult to take care of oneself during and after pregnancy. It also makes it difficult for the parent to cope with the normal developmental tasks of child care.

But did you know that Dad’s get affected by PPD too?

Recent studies have shown that 8% of fathers suffer from postpartum depression. Of course, the experience of PPD is different for mothers and fathers. It usually manifests in dads through the following symptoms:

  • anger attacks
  • self-criticism
  • affective rigidity
  • alcohol & drug abuse
  • bowel problems
  • headache
  • toothache
  • nausea
  • insomnia
  • exhaustion
  • increased or decreased appetite

Parenting stress is influenced by the role of the parent, the parent’s expectations and perceptions of his or her child, the parent’s characteristics, and the parent’s interaction with the child. A combination of biological, psychological, and social factors distorts the parent’s adaptive reaction to stressors and makes them more vulnerable to PPD.

Mental health issues in parents have been known to negatively affect children. It is also known that when a mother is severely depressed, the risk for paternal depression increases. However, it is also said that fathers could increase the risk of maternal depression if they are depressed or absent.

Clearly, parenting is a team effort that requires both parents to support and help each other during this challenging time.

So what can we do?

INVOLVE AND SUPPORT FATHERS. 

Partners, friends, support groups, & mental health professionals can support & help struggling dads to find meaning, contentment, & pride in their new roles as well as cope effectively with their anxieties & doubts.

Involving dads in childcare gives them the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate being a father. They gain a new sense of meaning and satisfaction in being a father when they are regarded as more than just the breadwinner of the family. Spending time with children, caring for them, playing with them, and interacting with them can also be very healing and can give parents a lot of emotional benefit.

Involved and supported dads are also beneficial for the whole family. Involved dads can help children with academic problems and protect them from developing behavior problems. They also become emotionally healthy and are more able have a lasting positive impact on their children’s emotional well being. Children benefit from fathers who are able to model and handle emotions effectively.

Emotionally healthy fathers also improve their partner’s mental health. Emotionally responsive and supportive fathers have partners who are less stressed, anxious, and depressed. This can be very helpful especially for mothers who are experiencing postpartum depression.

Provide support by reaching out to struggling parents and listen to them. Show that you are there for them and willing to support them in their times of trouble.

If you are a parent experiencing PPD, know that you are not alone. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Allow yourself time to adjust to the new changes in your life and give yourself space to relax. It is important to always remain healthy and to create a support network that you can rely on. Being a parent is a challenging task and it is normal to be anxious and scared of this new chapter in your life.

If you are struggling with the challenges of parenthood or know someone who does,  you may need to reach out to a friend or a professional counselor.

PowerVision provides Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) or workplace counseling services to companies and organizations in the Philippines. We help employees of our client companies deal with personal and work-related issues that impact their performance, such as the challenges of parenting and parenthood.

 

References:

Make Your Relationships Last Forever!

In her book “Creating Connection”, marital therapist Susan Johnson asserts that relationship problems arise when one or both partners’ need for safety and security in the relationship are not met.  If you want your relationship to last forever, you need to work on being that safe and secure person that your partner would long to go home to after a difficult day.  You would be the shoulder to cry on when they’re hurt, or the best friend they can share their deepest thoughts and feelings with.  Here are a few things you can do to develop a safe and lasting relationship:

 

TeddyBear

Love your partner unconditionally.  Accept their flaws and strange habits.  Validate how they are feeling even if it does not make sense to you.  Let go of minor irritants and discuss important issues objectively and lovingly.

Have other sources of strength, such as close friends, your parents, or God.   So when your partner is having a bad day, you can still love unconditionally because you can “recharge” from another source.

Be honest and faithful.  Nothing can destroy a relationship faster than a painful betrayal of trust.  If you find your heart straying,  discuss this openly with your partner before it progresses into an affair.  Examine what is missing in your relationship that you can work on together.

If you feel that your relationship is on the rocks, a counselor may be able to help you sort out your differences and build up your relationship.

 

Empowering People @ Work