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How to support staff struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder

A graph demonstrating an improvement in wellbeing

It’s that time of the year when most days are dark, cold, and generally pretty miserable for many of us. But for those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) commonly referred to as seasonal depression, this time of year can be unbearable.

According to the NHS, SAD is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. It is sometimes referred to as "the winter blues" because the symptoms are usually more apparent during the winter.

Although the exact cause of SAD is not fully understood, it's believed to be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days. One reason why people believe this is that during winter we don’t get enough Vitamin D, which helps with energy levels and tiredness. The NHS even says that “between October and early March we do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight”.

What are the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • A low mood
  • Irritability
  • Lacking energy
  • Sleeping for longer
  • Craving carbohydrates
  • Difficulty concentrating

This is just to name a few SAD symptoms. So, knowing the damage that SAD can cause, what can employers do to help their staff ease seasonal affective disorder?

How can you ease SAD in the workplace?

There are many ways to support employees experiencing seasonal affective disorder in the workplace. When your employees are struggling to get up in the morning and stay motivated throughout the day it is important to be empathetic and understanding. Here are some of the things you can do to support your employees:

Create a supportive company culture 

It is so important that your staff understand they can have an open conversation at work without judgement.

If they know that they have your full support, you remove a source of stress and make it easier for them to open up, resolve their issues, and focus on their job without fear of consequences.

Staff should be encouraged to have these open conversations with their line managers or even mental health first aiders if you have them!

Mental health first aiders can go a step further for those experiencing SAD. Through therapy work and a treatment plan consisting of cognitive behavioural therapy, a mental health first aider will have the knowledge and understanding to best tackle the situation.

Focus on wellness all year round

It shouldn’t have to be said that mental wellbeing should be a consideration for all employers all year round. By ensuring that you have measures for wellbeing in place before the autumn and winter seasons, employers are more likely to understand and utilise the resources available to them.

Provide Mental Health Training courses

Mental wellbeing can be as delicate as a person’s physical wellbeing, meaning that they should be treated with equal importance.

In the same way that you train staff to avoid physical injuries with workplace training, employers should be providing training and resources to staff to help them effectively manage their mental wellbeing.

Here at iHasco, we offer a range of Mental Health & Wellbeing Training courses that help you protect your employees' mental wellbeing and safely manage workplace mental health risks. Such as: easing the effects of seasonal affective disorder.

Some of our most popular courses include:

You can claim a free trial to any of these courses today! Alternatively, you can request a bespoke quote and a member of our team will be in touch with you to discuss your training needs.

Online Mental Health Training Courses