Struggling at work: a qualitative study of working Danes with depressive symptoms

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

Purpose: Little is known on how employees at work with mental health problems experience their work environment. This study explores how a selected sample of Danish employees with depressive symptoms experience the interaction with their work environment and how they respond to and deal with problems at work.

Methods: From a survey study on work and mental health in Denmark, we invited participants for in-depth interviews. Using grounded theory, we conducted 13 semi structured interviews with employees, at work, experiencing depressive symptoms.

Findings: Work was pivotal for the informants who were in an on-going process that we conceptualised as struggling at work. Informants struggled with the negative experiences of work that led to emotional, cognitive and somatic symptoms. Relationships with supervisors and colleagues, work load and work pressure and their self-image as a good worker conditioned the struggle. The informants found themselves unable to change their problematic working situation. This gradually led to different strategies to endure work and take care of one-self. These strategies were as follows: tending to symptoms and altering prospects for their future. The consequence of the on-going struggle was that the informants distanced themselves from their work. Conclusions: This study provided insight to the process of struggling at work, which the interviewed employees with depressive symptoms experienced. Implications for Rehabilitation Behaviour of supervisors is a key element for employees with depressive symptoms struggling at work. Practitioners and other health and rehabilitation practitioners working with people with depressive symptoms and other mental health problems could inquire about supervisor's behaviour and relation between supervisors and employees. Interventions that targets both the individual employee as well as work environment focused interventions at the organisational level could be beneficial for employees with mental health problems as well as the workplaces.

TidsskriftDisability and Rehabilitation
Udgave nummer18
Sider (fra-til)1674-1682
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 2015

ID: 162897066