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Depression: 'I kept my head down to survive the day at work'

From BBC - December 17, 2017

"I'd sit at my desk and not be able to stop the tears rolling down my face.

"A few people said, 'Are you all right, do you need to be here?' but no-one was really that interested."

For Natalie Hall, 36, the fear that she might lose her job or not be trusted in her day-to-day judgements was a barrier to talking openly to colleagues about her depression and anxiety disorder.

But this may not be uncommon as a survey suggests mental health problems remain a taboo in the workplace.

The poll of 2,025 UK workers by the charity Time to Change found they would rather talk to colleagues about sex or money worries than a mental health issue.

Brave face

When asked to select from a list the issues they felt they could talk openly about at work, 36% said they would open up about a physical health matter, 26% about money problems and 18% about sex - while just 13% selected mental health illness.

However, 58% said they would encourage a colleague to open up to them, or someone else at work, if they noticed he or she was struggling with their mental health and 16% said they would raise the matter with a line manager.

For Natalie, an intelligence analyst for Northumbria Police, putting on a brave face about the state of her mental health seemed the logical thing to do.

"At work I tried to carry on because I did not want to give up, I did not want to be defeated and I was ashamed as well because it was not talked about.

"I was really worried that if I said, 'I have got depression and anxiety,' that would affect my career and my job prospects for the future.

"And, you know, would I lose my job? Would I be seen as incapable? That the judgements I make are not rational any more, that my work was not trusted and that I'd be sidelined for things?"

Simple gestures

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