Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JAN. 08, 2015
version 6, draft 6

How Shared Identity Can Stave Off Depression at Work

Our workplaces are increasingly social places, and I’ve written previously about the buffer our workplaces can form against the various stresses and strains we encounter in life. The study, from researchers at Monash University, found that the more connected employees are to one another, the better able they are to cope with negative events in life, which is a particularly useful characteristic in challenging financial times.

A recent Australian study suggests that it isn’t just the connections themselves that are valuable however, as much as the shared identity we can often gain from group membership.

The research looked at a group of patients that were classified as either having depression or being at risk of developing it. Each of the participants had recently joined a group in their local area. Some of these groups were for sports, some for art or sewing, and others for things such as yoga.

These folks were contrasted with another group whose only ’treatment’ was to visit hospital on a regular basis for group therapy. The only thing that joined the two groups was that all of the participants were new members of their respective groups.

The patients were measured for their level of depression at the start of the research and again three months into their group membership. They were also asked things such as how much they had identified with the group they had joined.

Identity matters

The results revealed just how important identity was. When participants were not particularly attached to their group, they had a roughly 50 percent chance of staying depressed.

If they identified with their group however, this probability dropped to around 33 percent. Interestingly, this improvement was experienced whether the patient was in the community-based group or the hospital-based group. All that mattered was that they looked at their group as an ’us’ rather than a ’them and us’.

The participants revealed that in groups they identified with, they felt they were going through their challenges together as a group, and this support helped them significantly.

“We were able to find clear evidence that joining groups, and coming to identify with them, can alleviate depression,” the researchers say. “Our work shows that the ‘group’ aspect of social interaction is critical.”

Whilst the study mentioned at the start of this post suggests that social contact is all that’s required to fend off depression, this Australian paper believes that social contact is no use if you don’t feel connected to that social network.

“A group has to matter psychologically in order to be beneficial for depression – simply ‘showing up’ without commitment or engagement is unlikely to be sufficient,” they say.

It chimes well with a recent post, where I outline the importance of identity to success at work.

"Leaders who create a strong sense of ’us’ and a sense of belonging within their teams help staff to feel more positive about their work," the researchers said.

What’s more, such people tended to be more productive as well as more engaged. It really does underline the importance of not just providing employees with a strong social network, but also having a strong purpose that binds them together.

Get our FREE eBook!
'6 Steps to Landing Your Next Job'
Career Test
Career Test
Career Test

LEAVE A REPLY

0 comments

 

RELATED ARTICLES

How to Deal With Anxiety and Depression at Work
WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JUN 27, 2014

Depression can interfere with your professional life as much as your personal life; making it difficult to be the hard worker you have the potential to be. Job stress can...

How to Forget About Work During Time Off
WORK-LIFE BALANCE / APR 17, 2014

If you enjoy your work, then you don't mind thinking about it when you have time off. For many others, time off cannot come quick enough. Some individuals are just so...

Depressed Woman at Work
WORK-LIFE BALANCE / SEP 14, 2014

Dealing with career disappointment is enough to give anyone a serious case of the blues. Now try adding the additional weight of dealing with clinically diagnosed...

How to Take Your Mind Off Personal Problems and Get to Work
WORK-LIFE BALANCE / APR 30, 2014

Wonderful as it is, life has a funny way of throwing a few curveballs in our way once in a while - and unfortunately no one is exempt. Personal problems have a way of...

Why Coming Into Work May Ease Depression
WORK-LIFE BALANCE / NOV 20, 2014

Stress and strain are a seemingly inevitable part of modern life, and, indeed, it’s often easy to believe that our work is the primary cause of it.  Either our commute is...

Keira Knightley Elephant
WORK-LIFE BALANCE / AUG 31, 2015

So, you have some serious wanderlust and dream of having a job that allows you to travel the world. It’s not that you hate your job and want to quit; you love what you...

Get our FREE eBook!
'6 Steps to Landing Your Next Job'
G up arrow