Mental & Behavioral Health

Holiday Woes or Holiday Wellness: Perspective Is Everything

The holiday season is often more miserable than merry for workers, not because the hours are long and the labor is hard, but because depression is a hardship that is difficult to meet and a burden that is heavy to bear. But bear it they do,in silence and in pain, because they fear what may happen if they confide in a coworker or ask to consult with a doctor.

That this fear exists, that it is fearsome enough to scare the strongest individuals—and resilient enough to try the souls of the most steadfast workers—is reason enough for companies to work to banish this fear; for companies to conquer this fear.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI),anxiety and depression increase during the holidays. The increase coincides with increased alcohol consumption and drug use, a cause-and-effect relationship in which psychological pain begets physical numbness; in which the urge to numb one’s feelings begets a descent into self-medication; in which one's medicine of choice—be it alcohol or drugs, or a combination of the two or a cocktail, so to speak, of drink and drugs both licit and illicit—begets a rapid decline in all respects; in which thinking about suicide begets, sadly, suicide itself.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) speaks to this issue in a more general sense, since depression is common among people of all ages. The questions, then, are:

  • What can companies do to be true to the cause of corporate wellness?

  • How can companies create a health and wellness campaign that answers this query and resonates with their respective workers?

Start with what the campaign should say—namely, that companies want to help their workers, not hurt them or have them endure a hurt too powerful to describe, too profound to detail, and too protracted to define.

Start, too, by saying what workers need to know and hope to hear: that a workplace is a safe place.

Let employees know that no one will betray their confidence, that what they say is confidential, that a company is here to act as each worker’s confidant. Let them know these things upfront, and remind them of this policy, so they can receive the help they need; so they can receive the help they have a right to enjoy.

This campaign is an attempt to inform workers. It is informational from start to finish, because its success depends on repetition. Its success is a matter of leadership—a summons to seize the initiative—to prove a company cares about its workers.

It is more than a promise by a company, but a promise to keep. It is a union of words and actions in which what a company does determines the sincerity of what it says, in which words are a necessary salve but actions are an essential solution. It is a test of a company’s commitment to its workers. It is a test every company must pass.

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