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This Is Not a Hospital


A good friend who is suffering from depression wanted to be upright and direct with her boss about what she was going through.  At the appointment she outlined for her manager what she was doing treatment-wise and the possible conflicts she saw regarding her job.  After she finished, making it short and sweet without getting into specifics, her boss looked at her and said, “This is a place of business, not a hospital. If you can’t remember that, it is best you leave.” My friend left the meeting, wishing she had never thought of talking with her boss. 

 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression is estimated to cause 200 million lost workdays each year at a cost to employers of $17 to $44 billion. In addition, in a three month period, people with depression miss an average of 4.8 workdays and suffer 11.5 days of reduced productivity.  With statistics like that you would think that businesses have a vested interest in making sure their employees with depression are helped to the best treatment and support available.  

 Some businesses in the U.S. do offer Employee Assistance Programs which give information and referral services for employees with symptoms of depression.  In some businesses, these programs are integrated into the workplace by providing ongoing programming and customized services.  

 Each month Amy and I travel to Hallmark’s corporate offices to hold a session for people living with someone who is depressed.  Time and again we are told how helpful this time is for the participants.  Hallmark recognizes the importance of supporting its employees by offering regular health programs, especially the truly convenient program entitled Lunch and Learn, which, as its name suggests, is an opportunity to learn coping techniques, build knowledge and gather support during the lunch hour. 

 There are other businesses across the country that do similar but the reality is that there are simply not enough places that support their employees as they struggle with depression.  Too many managers are reminding their employees that their business is not a hospital.  Too many bosses don’t understand what depression is and they continue to perpetrate the stigma. 

 Let’s move to a time when we can look at every place – home, work, school – as a place of support from the community.  We will be a happier and healthier nation because of it. 

– Bernadette


4 Responses

  1. Excellent article. I love the Lunch and Learn idea.
    Shelly Beach

  2. Excellent post, and if your friend feels she has been discriminated against because of her illness, there are laws…………..

  3. So sorry for your friend. I agree with Janet – does ADA not apply here? Oh my. I can only imagine how painful and discouraging that must have felt to her …


  4. Not living in the US, I can only speak from my own limited experience in that it’s quite possible that it will depend heavily on corporate culture of companies and individual managers within them. In places where employees aren’t valued beyond their ability to bring profit for stakeholders (where employees are erroneously excluded), the level of caring by the company will be to provide the bare minimum obligated by law. Unfortunately, many companies seem to focus solely on profit, at the expensive of people. Given that there’s been an increase of awareness for Corporate Social Responsibility charters, principles, and mission statements, it seems that some companies are waking up to the fact that their work culture significantly impacts their brands and reputation. It seems that the only way for some companies to wake up is when someone speaks out about their experience, and thus denying the company good future hiring opportunities. It’s a long slow process towards creating entities that learn to think beyond their own narrow scope of profit and look at the bigger picture.

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