Employee Wellness

Seasonal Mental Health Awareness

Target Audience: Employers working in an office environment
Deliverables: long-form, evidence-based blog post, employee emails, and social media posts


Social Media

Blog Post

Beyond Winter Blues

How to support employees with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Many people experience a dip in their mood when the seasons change. However, for 5% of the working population, this low point slides deeper into sadness and even depression, classified as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Though the Mayo Clinic acknowledges that the specific cause of SAD is still unknown, they suggest that several factors may play a role in the connection between seasons and mental health. One of the significant contributors is the lack of sunlight.

As your body is exposed to less daylight during the winter months, your circadian rhythm changes and a critical brain chemical called serotonin declines. This neurotransmission chemical regulates and affects your mood. There is also a decline in melatonin levels which can disrupt sleep patterns. As these levels drop, they can trigger symptoms of depression.

SAD is diagnosed more often in women than men and is reported most frequently in younger adults. Those suffering from SAD experience many of the same symptoms associated with major depression, including:

  • Difficulty sleeping or waking up in the morning
  • Decreased energy levels or lethargy
  • Low concentration levels
  • Change in appetite or weight gain/loss

Understanding the impact and symptoms can only offer so much reassurance to an employee struggling to push through a challenging time, particularly if those symptoms interfere with their daily lives and work.

So, how can you support your staff with conditions like SAD or other mental health challenges?

Many employers and insurers cover mental health treatment. Still, Medical Health America reports that one in five people who experience anxiety and depression are not getting the professional care they need. It is critical for the well-being of your team that you make employees aware of the services and benefits available to them, for both acute and chronic bouts with mental health conditions.

Caring for conditions such as SAD can be simple and effective long-term, so long as the patient is consistent with their treatment plan. For example, light therapy and antidepressant medication can be successful in treating SAD and nonseasonal depression.

Support from within the company can also go a long way to help employees care for their mental health. Some examples include:

  • Encouraging employees to spend time outdoors
  • Increasing office natural light and bright light
  • Providing healthy outlets for connection and movement
  • Offering flexible work hours or remote options
  • Prompting dialogue about the importance of mental and emotional health

If you or one of your employees is experiencing seasonal or chronic depression symptoms, reach out to connect with immediate, free national resources. In addition, follow up with your HR department to discuss your health benefits or your insurance carrier to secure the proper diagnosis and care that you may need.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline | Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Crisis Text Line | Text “HELLO” to 741741

Disaster Distress Helpline | Call or text 1-800-985-5990
Veterans Crisis Line | Send a text to 838255

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