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Depression in the Workplace - How Bell Let's Talk Day is Not Enough.

I wrote this article last April when I was going through depression in the workplace, and I felt like I did not have the right resources or support available to me, and that getting one day a year to speak about depression is not enough.

I think my biggest struggle at the moment, is feeling depressed at work. I feel open to discussing the way I feel with my partner and with close friends, but when it comes to work. I am hiding. There are many days that I wish I could take a personal day and stay home, and heal, reconnect and recharge, but I can't. The workplace, I personally feel, is still a taboo place for depression. I still think it is an environment where we have our masks on, we have our costumes on. We are happy, professional, put together, and strong. How much better would my life be if I could stay at home on the days that I didn't feel like getting dressed, putting on my fake face, fake clothes and fake personality to interact with other fake people? If I just had that one day a week, or a few days a week to sleep in a bit longer, take a long hot bath, sip some tea, write, reflect, and dig into myself to see why I am feeling a certain way. I really wish that the workplace was more open, and encouraging about this. 

Every year we celebrate in January "Bell Let's Talk Day" to have workplaces and big corporations be "open" to listening and supporting those who suffer from a mental illness. I think it is a great step into becoming more "aware" and speaking more about mental illness, but one day? Is that all we get? One day a year, to feel like we can be open, accepted and heard, then like Christmas Day, its gone. Have to wait until next year until we can stay home, open up, heal, and be heard and not seen as crazy, unstable or sick to be taken seriously? How else are companies and major corporations taking this illness seriously? 

If I were to open up to my colleagues, boss, HR dept about my depression, would they think I was an unfit employee? Think I was incapable of getting my job done? Not a prized candidate for a promotion? Not the right fit for the job? This is my fear. But I am all of these things at the moment, except I "look" like a star employee, I "look" like I am hitting all my targets, I "look" like I am positive, a team player, a hard worker, a superstar. What would I "look" like if I had the "depression" label on my forehead? Still capable of being a #girlboss? Still capable of getting that raise?

I think that every workplace should have an open policy where you take "personal" days. And I don't mean..."go to the doctor for your yearly PAP or yearly dental checkup" personal days, but a fucking PERSONAL DAY minimum once a week where you can reconnect, relax, reconnect yourself...with no explanation, no excuses needed, it's just going to happen. At the moment, I have completely maxed out my benefits "psychologist" visits and it is only April. My company gives us $500 a YEAR for psychologist visits. $500. Each session is $ 80% coverage, so I basically got 3 sessions covered, the last one I was shocked to find out was not covered two weeks ago as I had already hit my max. So the necessary therapy I was getting, now is over for this year, because I cannot afford to pay someone $200 CASH to get help. What am I supposed to do now? I am the "lucky" privileged person who has a job and benefits. But what do the people who don't have benefits or these resources do? Post for free on facebook and instagram at the end of January, get the one liner supportive comments from fair-weather social media friends, then suffer the rest of the year alone? How are we such an "open" and "accepting" country and society if we give people maximums on the help and solutions they need most? We need psychologists to be available and accessible if we really want to help our employees, our people and each other. 

Companies and corporations have a long way to go from "Bell Let's Talk Day". We need to continue this OPEN conversation all year around, give us more benefits and resources. Every month, every week, every day. It needs to be encouraged and promoted to take care of yourself, not discouraged.


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