depression
(Photo: fizkes/Shutterstock.com)

How Company Leadership Can Support Diverse Employees with Depression

Depression is an invisible but common mental health problem in the U.S.  One in five Americans are affected by mental health issues, and depression tops the list as  a condition many Americans experience.

It can be debilitating and could cost businesses $44 billion a year in lost productivity in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Mental illness, and depression in particular, has hit the Black population in the U.S. hard. In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Black men and women, ages 15–24, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

Black girls, grades 9–12, were 70% more likely to attempt suicide in 2017, as compared to white females of the same age. To make matters worse, Black Americans also report the lowest levels of mental health treatment and access.

Related Article: AT&T Celebrates Black History Month

Generational poverty, income inequality and racism also take their tolls. Research has found that experiencing racist macro and microaggressions can result in anxiety and worry, hyper-vigilance, headaches, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and other physical and psychological symptoms, including depression.

Leaders of companies that valued both diversity and mental health have a chance to have a positive impact on those working around them.

“Black women deal with many unique societal factors that could affect mental health. As a Black woman who deals with anxiety and depression, I often feel “weak” due to my emotional fragility, Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez said in a healthline piece she authored. “But as I grow more in my understanding of mental health, I’ve realized my struggle doesn’t negate my strength. And, more importantly, that I don’t always have to be strong. Expressing vulnerability takes strength. I accept this today, but it’s been a long journey to get here.”

There are companies that are stepping up in order to improve how mental illness is addressed in the workplace.

Johnson & Johnson (DI Hall of Fame) is one of those. Johnson & Johnson collaborated with both the American Heart Association and dozens of CEOs across the U.S. to create the “Mental Health: A Workforce Crisis” report. The report has seven strategies created by experts to both foster a healthy work environment and support employees who may be struggling with a mental illness, such as depression.

Kaiser Permanente’s (DI Hall of Fame) chairman and CEO, Bernard J. Tyson made ending the stigma around mental illness an active part of his position before his death. Tyson passed away in November 2019.

He wrote an article,  “Redefining Mental Health for a 21st Century World,” which explained the importance of speaking more openly about mental illness.

“Improving mental health care is not only an industry issue, it has become a critical societal issue,” he said. “Our nation’s ability to address mental health in a holistic, comprehensive way may just determine how successful we ultimately are in our quest to improve the health of America and the world … We must tackle and remove the stigma associated with seeking mental health care.”

Luckily, there are ways companies can support their employees who are struggling with depression. Here are a few to consider.

  1. Understand and be able to spot the signs of depression.
  2. Speak with the employee honestly but privately about what they’re experiencing.
  3. Encourage a flexible schedule and work with them to create a workday routine that supports their productivity.
  4. Break up the employees’ large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks.
  5. Offer resources at the company such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).
  6. Help remove the stigma around mental illness by encouraging employees and leaders to talk more openly about their struggles.

Latest News

LGBTQ diversity

More LGBTQ+ Employees Comfortable Expressing Sexuality, Gender at Work

There have been significant strides in LGBTQ diversity and inclusion in the workplace nationally and globally. For example, according to the Human Rights Campaign report, A Workplace Divided: Understanding the Climate for LGBTQ Workers Nationwide, 46% of LGBTQ workers say they are closeted at work, compared to 50% in Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2008 Degrees of…

Wells Fargo’s Gigi Dixon Contributes Black History Month Piece to Business Insider

Georgette “Gigi” Dixon is senior vice president and senior director of external relations for national constituents at Wells Fargo. In this role, she leads and coordinates Wells Fargo’s engagement and outreach to national non-government organizations and key stakeholders with the goal of promoting Wells Fargo’s policy priorities. She published a…

Accenture Technology Vision 2020: From Tech-Clash to Trust, the Focus Must Be on People

Originally posted on Accenture.com To compete and succeed in a world where digital is everywhere, companies need a new focus on balancing “value” with “values,” aligning their drive to create business value with their customers’ and employees’ values and expectations, according to Accenture Technology Vision 2020. The 20th edition of Accenture’s…

AbbVie to Present at the SVB Leerink 9th Annual Global Healthcare Conference

Originally posted on AbbVie.com AbbVie, a research-based global biopharmaceutical company, will participate in the SVB Leerink 9th Annual Global Healthcare Conference on Tuesday, February 25.  Michael Severino, M.D., vice chairman and president and Robert A. Michael, executive vice president and chief financial officer, will present at 9:30 a.m. Central time. A live audio webcast…

TIAA Logo

TIAA: Howard University Event Focused on Solving Financial Challenges, Building Economic Strength of African American Community

Originally published on tiaa.org. TIAA and AARP sponsored event featured industry experts, including CBS National News Correspondent, Michelle Miller. On January 31, Howard University convened an important event focused on enhancing the economic strength and financial wellness of African Americans. The event, sponsored by TIAA and AARP, brought together industry…