Depression at work, authenticity in question: Experiencing, concealing and revealing.
Ridge D., Broom A., Kokanović R., Ziebland S., Hill N.
Australia and the United Kingdom have introduced policies to protect employees who experience mental illness, including depression. However, a better understanding of the experiential issues workers face (e.g. sense of moral failure) is needed for the provision of appropriate and beneficial support. We analysed 73 interviews from the United Kingdom and Australia where narratives of depression and work intersected. Participants encountered difficulties in being (and performing as if) 'authentic' at work, with depression contributing to confusions about the self. The diffuse post-1960s imperative to 'be yourself' is experienced in conflicting ways: while some participants sought support from managers and colleagues (e.g. sick leave, back-to-work plans), many others put on a façade in an attempt to perform the 'well' and 'authentic' employee. We outline the contradictory forces at play for participants when authenticity and visibility are expected, yet, moral imperatives to be good (healthy) employees are normative.