This edition of Crackers (our occasional series that highlights valuable nuggets elsewhere on the blogosphere – see the full list) picks up two posts with a common source – a recent Mind survey on workplace stress. Back in 1991, American singer and pianist released an album called Old Songs for the New Depression: it seems in 2011, even the old songs have been forgotten but the depression affects the people more than the economy. A powerful workplace taboo, this very much a topic where openness can save not just the wellbeing of individuals but also the performance of organisations, which makes the powerfulness of the taboo all the more puzzling.

  • Failure to tackle workplace depression costing millions, as one in four workers suffer discriminationa posting from the Open University’s Social Matters blog, where Dick Skellington highlights the increasing incidence of both stress and depression in workplaces, and the lack of managerial insight or sympathy. 25% of us, it seems, are never asked how we are, as mental health issues are swept under a metaphorical carpet, where their financial costs are as hidden as their human ones. With presenteeism costing the UK economy £16bn a year, Dick emphasises that employers can help where they “engage more fully with staff suffering mental ill-health and to create a culture of openness in the workplace, and a culture of care which supports workers and does not stigmatise or abuse them.”
  • Workers keep quiet about stress over redundancy fears – the survey is also picked up at People Management by James Burkett, who points out thatWork colleagues are still seen as unsympathetic to mental health difficulties, with seven in ten saying that they would not expect any support from their boss if they mentioned their stress. Four in ten described stress as a ‘taboo’ topic at work, while 46 per cent said that taking time off for stress was typically seen as an excuse for something else.”

A free employers’ brief guide, issued by Mind and the Federation of Small Businesses, Taking care of Business, is available as a downloadable PDF file.

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