Ask the HR Department: How can I support staff with seasonal depression?

By HR and health & safety consultancy Peninsula Canada

The dark winter season is here, and it can affect many people’s moods. Shorter days and colder weather are even harder for those who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or seasonal depression. Here are some important tips on how employers can help manage staff who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? It’s a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. It usually appears in late fall and lasts throughout the winter months. Symptoms can include changes in appetite, feelings of depression, problems with sleep, and low energy.

How can I help employees manage SAD? Start by creating awareness. It’s important to maintain an environment where employees feel comfortable reaching out if they are struggling with their mental health. Employers can start by sending out informational emails (for remote staff) or putting up informational posters around the office. Training managers on how to recognize symptoms of SAD and offer support is another effective way to help employees during this time.

Educate employees on coping strategies. Some of the ways to help those experiencing SAD include the following:

  • Stick to a sleep routine
  • Eat a balanced and nutritious diet. Avoid too much takeout or junk food
  • Create and follow a regular exercise routine as exercise helps with depression and anxiety
  • Stay connected with family, friends, and co-workers

Connect employees to mental health resources. No matter what employees are struggling with, whether it’s seasonal depression or stress, it’s important to inform them about existing mental health resources. If your company offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), remind employees about its benefits and how they can access it.

Peninsula is an HR and Health and Safety consulting firm serving over 80,000 small businesses worldwide, including dealers in home improvement. Clients are supported with ongoing updates to their workplace documentation and policies as legislation changes. Additionally, clients benefit from 24/7 employer HR advice and are protected by legal insurance.