Background: While the prevalence of anxiety and depression has increased, little is known of the impact on working life. The aim of this study was to explore the effects of anxiety and depression and the treatment for these conditions on performance and safety in the workplace.
Method: Nine focus groups were conducted with employees who had suffered anxiety and depression. A further 3 groups comprised staff from human resources and occupational health. The sample comprised 74 individuals aged 18-60 years, from a range of occupations. Results were presented to a panel of experts to consider the clinical implications.
Results: Workers reported that the symptoms and medication impaired work performance, describing accidents which they attributed to their condition/medication. Respondents were largely unprepared for the fact that the medication might make them feel worse initially. Employees were reluctant to disclose their condition to colleagues due to the stigma attached to mental illness.
Limitations: People who had experienced problems with managing their symptoms and medication at work are more likely to volunteer to participate in such a study than those who had a satisfactory experience. Also, the researchers had no background information on severity of mental health problems of participants.
Conclusions: Anxiety and depression were associated with impaired work performance and safety. The authors consider the implications for health care and the management of mental health problems at work.