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Productivity through people
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Facebook Knows If You Will Get Depressed Before You Do!!!

Last week I read an incredible article in Forbes about the use of AI in mental health where Facebook was used to predict depression:

…after analyzing half a million Facebook posts from people who consented to provide their Facebook status updates and medical records, they were able to identify depression-associated language markers. What the researchers found was that linguistic markers could predict depression up to three months before the person receives a formal diagnosis.

Whilst I think this is fantastic that technology can be used in this way - to reach those potentially most vulnerable in our society - I have wonder why human’s are not picking up these nuances also?

Are we really so detached from each other, so obsessed in our own worlds that we are unable to notice what is happening to those around us?

Well it seems we are…

One in four Australian adults are lonely.

One in two (50.5%) Australians feel lonely for at least one day in a week, while one in four (27.6%) feel lonely for three or more days.

Nearly 55% of the population feel they lack someone to turn to

Lonely Australians are 15.2% more likely to be depressed and 13.1% more likely to be anxious about social interactions than those not lonely

In all the articles that I’ve read, there is definitely a common theme - DISCONNECTION. If the AI algorithm can pick up the signs - why aren’t we noticing?

I believe we are still too scared to share how we feel with others - and the workplace can play a huge part in helping with this! As life has changed and people need to move for economic factors, often the workplace is the most consistent human interaction that some people have. This is compounded by the inclination to withdraw when feeling anxious or low.

Dig further and you can see, it is not just our mental health at risk - there are so many other factors impacted by the loneliness we feel.

Loneliness has been associated with cardiovascular problems and premature death. Lonelier individuals are less likely to achieve quality sleep. Lonely individuals experience reductions in reasoning and creativity. In addition to these reduced abilities, loneliness affects workplace productivity, as lonely individuals report less job satisfaction and are more likely to face unemployment. Loneliness is commonly correlated with mental health concerns such as anxietydepression, and suicidality. Similarly, loneliness is often associated with poor coping mechanisms, such as compulsive technology use, smoking, and self-harm.

So if for no other reason than to get employees working harder - LET’S DO SOMETHING!

Take the time to PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY and MAKE EYE CONTACT with someone today!

In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, ‘lean in', and really look at people, beyond their words, beyond their ‘fine’ and take the time to connect!

If you’re in Melbourne this week, SMILE… As the woman staring at you may well be me, trying to make a connection!

Jo O’Donovan is the founder of Workplace Relationships, based in Melbourne. She works with companies to increase their productivity through focusing on their culture, people and relationships. Jo has a particular passion for improving the mental health of employees through developing the human connections within organisations and her new online course on Mental Health In The Workplace can be accessed here.

Are you a manager who needs to know how to have a mental health conversation? Access our manager course here

To find out more about Strengths Profile Assessments - click here