Sadly one in five employees are likely to be affected by depression at some point in their lives. The total number of working days lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety was 11.3 million in 2014.

It’s never a nice feeling witnessing a member of staff hit a low point in their lives, so here are 7 ways to help those who might heading towards a rocky road.

1. Ask your employee if their depression is being caused by work so you can work together to find the best solution for you both. Perhaps they might need time off work or sabbatical leave.

2. Ask your employee if they would like to see a councillor. They might feel more comfortable speaking to someone they don’t know rather than you-due to the fear of being judge. It’s always best to get trained professional help to deal with sensitive issues like this. However, before you decide to seek professional help, have a sit down with your member of staff to work out the best possible solution for them.

3. Allow them to have time off. If an employee goes off sick with depression, and they just so happen to be your best member of staff, don’t panic. Allow them to have the time off and don’t make any hasty decisions by replacing them. Good talent is hard to find and you’ve probably invested a lot of training into them so they are worth keeping.

4. Keep in touch. The worst thing for anyone who is going through depression is feeling that they are alone. Keep in touch with them and arrange weekly or monthly catch up calls. Be supportive and positive throughout their rough period and don’t rush them back into work. Inform them that you are there for them and that you value you them as a member staff.

5. Offer flexible hours or part time. Returning back to work after a long period of having time off can be very difficult. They might find it difficult adjusting to the normal 9-5 routine so ease them in gently by allowing them to come in two days a week to begin with for example.

6. Encourage your employees to look after their mental health. Fitness is a great way to release some stress and if your company offers special gym discounts then make them aware of it.

7. Keep an eye out for other things that might be causing their depression or anxiety. Perhaps they are getting bullied or harassed at work, which could be the cause of their depression. Managers would like to think that office bullying doesn’t take place in their office but there is a dark side to the 9-5 life. Bullying at work is a real issue and should be taken very seriously. Employers are responsible for preventing bullying and harassment and are liable for any harassment suffered by their employees, so keep an eye out.

If you take the time out to offer support to your member of staff who might be suffering from depression or mental health issues, then you will retain the services of talented individuals rather than lose them.

Finally, how have you dealt with staff depression? We would love to know.

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