18% of Qatar’s population suffers from depression; work stress is one of the reasons why
According to a senior consultant psychiatrist at Hamad Medical Corporation, the working population in Qatar, aged 20-34, are at a higher risk of depression.
About 18% of the population in Qatar suffers from depression, and “repeated work stress doubles the risk of depression”, said Dr Suhaila Ghuloum in a report in Gulf Times.
JustHere spoke to Razan H, the HR Director at a large private firm, who says that maximum stress among employees is observed during the travel season. “In Qatar, most of the companies might report of work stress during the vacation season (during the summer months and around New Year). Managers have to take this into consideration before approving leave requests. For example if we have four graphic designers, it’s not logical to let three of them take their annual leave at the same time and leave the fourth colleague under unmanageable workload stress. Proper handover is important.”
Other reasons of work-related stress that she highlights include:
- Tight deadlines.
- Long working hours.
- Unhealthy relationship between colleagues and also between the manager and employee.
- Poor managerial skills. If managers engage in a blame culture, care about highlighting their employees’ mistakes and underestimate their efforts, can place a lot of stress on employees.
- Unmanageable workload. This might be either due to tight deadlines or shortage of staff especially during vacation seasons where the employee needs to take some of their colleague’s responsibilities and tasks beside his/her own.
- Unclear career path.
- Poor financial packages.
Some warning signs
According to Dr. Ghuloum, the general symptoms of depression are:
- Persistent low mood
- Disturbed sleep
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue or physical complaints
- Poor self-esteem
- Feeling of hopelessness
- Resorting to substance abuse
However, the depression that arises due to work stress often leads to the following signs among employees:
- Poor concentration
- Less productivity
- More errors or accidents
- Tardiness in accomplishing work or missing deadlines
- Less motivation and enthusiasm
- Difficulty in making decisions
- Problems with colleagues
- Increase in sick leaves
The fear of stigma
A common myth surrounding depression that Dr. Ghuloum points out is that depression depicts that “the person is weak or lacks faith”. As a result, many chose to not report depression at work out of fear of being discriminated or terminated.
However, Razan H. stresses the need to voice out, even if the manager is the main reason behind an employee’s stress. “Employees need to be transparent with their managers and can express their feelings in a professional and polite way because stress for sure will affect their productivity and will make them not enjoy what they are doing. If the situation doesn’t improve, the employee can share his concern with the HR department.”
According to the HR Director, there are two important skills that companies should focus on developing to minimise work stress.
- Time management skills: Well-organised employees with good time management skills will have the ability to prioritise their daily work. This will help them in handling tight deadlines and higher level of workload better.
- Leadership skills: The manager can be the main reason for having his team to be under stress. So companies have to make sure in developing the managerial and leadership skills of its upper management to reduce the level of stress among employees.
While speaking to JustHere, another HR professional based in Qatar also pointed out that companies should ensure an “open door policy” to foster a feeling of openness between managers and employees. “It’s also important to conduct regular surveys based on three parameters: employee satisfaction with the job, manager and the company. In this way you get to gauge the general trend among employees. When these surveys are conducted at an organization-wide level it is easier to spot the stress levels of different departments,” she added.