Depression is part of the job

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I work on mental health. When I say this to people it often happens they talk to me and they look at me like I am fighting for defending unicorns from Rainbowland from the attacks of a terrible army of trolls.

I do not blame them for this: this is a common cultural misunderstanding about mental health. The point is that this misunderstanding needs to be addressed. So, I decide to answer to some of the most common and meaningful comments I get. Here the first:

“It’s normal to experience depression if you have a certain job. It’s part of the job itself.”

As introduction to the chapter concerning neoplastic diseases of Pathologic Basis of Disease by Robbins, one of the most widely used general pathology manuals among University students, you find this sentence:

”The only safe way to avoid cancer is to not be born: living means taking the risk.”

This emphasizes how cancer is part of our nature and of our biology, it is part of the way we are made. It is normal that we get cancer. Cancer is indeed part of human being. Cancer is part of life. That does not mean that cancer must be passively accepted.

Depression is part of the career of a physicians as much as a broken ligament is part of  the career of a football player, getting shot is part of the career of a police man, a car accident is part of  the career of a pilot, heart attack is part of the career of a broker, a needle puncture is part of the career of a nurse, a trauma from the fall is part of the career of a bricklayer, pneumoconiosis is part of the career of a miner.

Nevertheless, only when we talk about mental health the risk needs to be accepted as “part of the career”, almost as a natural selection criteria.

This demonstrates that still, perhaps unconsciously, mental health is not considered on the same level of physical health, yet.

Yes, stress and other mental health problems are occupational hazards. But this is exactly the reason why we need to tackle them in the group at high risk.

Any job has specific occupational hazards and risk factors. This does not mean we need to accept them. Every job has specific occupational hazards and risks and this is why we need to try anything in our hands to decrease them as more as possible.

There is a discipline, a branch of medicine, with this specific task. It is called occupational medicine.

Yellow cards, red cards and disciplinary measures, bulletproof jackets, security belts, masks and ventilator systems, scaffold anchors, ergonomic workplaces, protective helmets.

What do we do in order to decrease depression at work?

Fabio Porru

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