Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Depression at work

Quite a big piece in todays Times about depression at work, with several related articles. If you do a search for 'depression' on their site there have been quite a few articles recently, hopefully this is a straw in the wind for public acceptance of mental illness as a 'normal' illness. One striking section in the article says:

Workplace “stress” is now the second-biggest occupational health problem in the UK after musculoskeletal conditions and, according to a World Health Organisation report, “depression” is the fourth most significant cause of suffering and disability after heart disease, cancer and traffic accidents. By 2020 it will rank second, behind heart disease. It’s no surprise that calculations vary as to what this might cost British business in lost productivity. Different reports have put the annual cost at £3 billion, £9 billion and a massive £32 billion. But the extent of the problem is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that in 2006, BT admitted that it had about 500 people off sick with psychiatric problems every single day.

It's worth a read. It raises the 'tipping point' question. At what point do we get to a level of stress and dis-ease as a society that we start asking radical questions about the kind of society we have, and want to live in? At the moment we are still in treatment mode, rather than prevention mode. We'd rather manage the symtoms than tackle the disease. In fact, we don't even know what the disease is.

Libby Purves, in the same paper, may be on to something in her commending of Lenten abstinence, reigning in our appetites and 'putting the waiting back into wanting'. If you take it for granted that you can have everything you want, now, and with minimal effort, it becomes very hard to be really thankful for any of it. In Bono's words "I gave you everything you ever wanted/it wasn't what you wanted".

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