Employers love an optimist, research shows, so career adviser Vicky Oliver says if you broadcast a rosy outlook you’ll get more promotions and on-the-job success. But her seven tips to help employees transmit and sustain that upbeat mind-set, though no doubt effective and well-meaning, could be a double-edged sword for some of the most vulnerable among the Canadian workforce — those coping with mental illness.
I worry her tips could be misinterpreted and end up putting the burden of fighting depression — by far the most common and costly workplace mental health issue — onto some depressed employees who may be afraid to reach out for help.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association website, “No amount of ‘cheering up’ can make the depression go away; no amount of exercise, vitamins or vacation can make it disappear. That’s because depression is an illness, not a weakness”.
Current statistics show that 20%-25% of employees will experience depression in their lifetime. We’ve all become familiar now with the projection that depression will rank second only to heart disease as leading cause of disability world wide by 2020.
But what grabbed me about Oliver’s tips for keeping a positive outlook at work is how strongly they mirror the cognitive training and tricks taught many people to successfully battle depression. Many of Oliver’s tips are excellent for employers if used in the right context, I believe. Here are some examples: