Given Blue Monday, many of us are reminded of how depressing January can be after the euphoria of the “festive season” has passed. But feeling “off” is not the same as being clinically depressed. Just ask Bruce Springsteen, who recently unmasked his quiet suffering in his autobiography Born to Run : “I believe it’s the same for most people. You’re looking for something, some place where you feel comfortable, where you’re able to express yourself; some place you feel safe. It is the answer to a lot of the conflicts.”
Enlightened employers recognize the power of making the modern workplace somewhere “safe”. Due to high profile individuals, groups, and companies, the ignominy of depression is being replaced with a proactive and positive recognition that there is no shame in living with mental illness. My own organization proudly recognizes the need to accommodate all forms of disability including mental illness. And one of Canada’s largest and most influential employers — Bell Canada — is funding donations based on its customers promoting awareness around mental illness using Bell’s services in a one-day initiative later this month – donations support Canadian mental health programs which serve to aid those whose minds are cloaked in darkness and quiet despair.
Let’s also recognize that making depression our collective fight is supported not only societally but legally. Years ago our Court compelled employers to accommodate the blight of depression in the workplace in ADGA Group Consultants Inc. v. Lane.
Innumerable decisions across Canada have endorsed the requirement of all employers to recognize depression and to ameliorate its consequences, see for example, Boucher v. Black & McDonald Ltd. And it’s not optional: all of Canada’s Human Rights Codes and Tribunals require employers to advance the interests of afflicted individuals in the hiring process and intra-employment: http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/ontario-divisional-court-upholds-right-employees-mental-illness.
It’s good business to heed Bruce’s selfless exposé:
And I’ve always been strong
But I’ve never felt so weak …
But never forsaken
Now the morning sun
The morning sun is breaking
– Bruce Springsteen, The Depression
All employers should follow Bruce’s euphemistic advice regarding the “morning sun breaking” in their workplaces. After all, he’s The Boss.