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How Anxiety and Depression Impact Workspaces

A recent study led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that failure to address depression and anxiety is costing the world’s economy almost $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. It’s also been estimated that around 828,000 employees around the globe suffer from work-related stress, depression, or anxiety. And, scarily, that these conditions are accountable for the loss of almost 12 billion working days each year.

These staggering statistics shed light on the impact that anxiety and depression have on both individuals and the global workforce. Beyond the economic implications, they reveal some harsh realities concerning the state of our collective mental health. And highlight the urgency of acknowledging mental health challenges as a critical part of overall wellbeing. The workplace, often considered a hub of productivity, is intricately connected to the mental health of its workers. This makes it essential to address these issues head-on before they result in personal and organisational consequences.

Recognising depression and anxiety in colleagues  

Observing the signs of depression and anxiety at work in our colleagues and team members is crucial for fostering a supportive environment. Common indicators include: 

  • noticeable changes in behaviour, such as withdrawal from social interactions 
  • increased irritability 
  • decreased enthusiasm for work 
  • frequent absenteeism/taking a lot of sick leave
  • changes in sleeping patterns, and
  • visible changes in personal grooming.  

It's important to approach these observations with empathy and sensitivity. This will help individuals feel comfortable discussing their struggles.  

The link between depression and anxiety  

Although depression and anxiety are two very different conditions, they’re often interconnected. Sometimes people can experience both conditions simultaneously. Some common symptoms that are present in both conditions include: 

  • excessive worry 
  • difficulty concentrating, and  
  • changes in sleeping patterns.  

The relationship between depression and anxiety can vary, with anxiety sometimes triggering or exacerbating depression, and vice versa. Understanding this link is crucial for addressing these issues effectively. 

Impact on productivity and work performance  

Depression and anxiety at work have a profound impact on an individual's ability to function effectively. The cognitive symptoms of these conditions, such as difficulty concentrating and making decisions, can hamper productivity. And the emotional toll can lead to: 

  • increased absenteeism 
  • presenteeism - being physically present but not fully engaged, and 
  • decreased overall work quality.  

The energy required to manage these conditions can drain an individual's capacity to contribute optimally to their tasks. 

Addressing anxiety and depression in the workplace  

Creating a supportive workplace environment requires a multifaceted approach. Begin by fostering open communication about mental health and reducing stigma. Resources that can help include: 

  • coaching and therapy services 
  • mental health first aid and resilience training 
  • online self-care and personal growth courses, and
  • informative live events.  

Regular check-ins with team members can also provide opportunities for them to discuss challenges and for managers and leaders to offer support and guidance. Training for managers and supervisors can help create a more empathetic and responsive work environment.  Meaning mental health concerns can be addressed promptly and appropriately.  


In conclusion, the toll of anxiety and depression on individual wellbeing, workplace productivity, and the economy cannot be ignored. By recognising the signs, addressing stigma, and implementing proactive strategies to support mental wellbeing, workplaces can become nurturing environments where employees can thrive both personally and professionally. Through these efforts, we can collectively reshape our approach to mental health and create a more compassionate and productive workforce. 

To learn more about how Plumm can help with employee mental health and personal growth get in touch with us now. 

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