MONTREAL – According to a report released by McGill’s Institute for Mental Health, the leading cause of depression among working Canadians is shared office space with Dave Sheppard.
“Nine times out of ten, Dave is the cause of depression among employed Canadians who must share office space with Dave,” explained the MIMH study’s co-author, Dr. Elena Aarensten.
“Symptoms may begin to show up mere weeks after office exposure to the 32-year-old Information Security Analyst. They can increase with prolonged, repeated exposure to Dave’s habits, such as taking other people’s food from the communal fridge, leaving his used toothpicks on the counters, and never filing his paperwork in the right place even though he’s been instructed several times about this.”
Researchers found that depression varied from mild to major depending on the proximity to Dave within the office. Other factors include the amount of interaction one is forced to make with the terrible human being who still hasn’t learned how to use the fax machine without the paper getting jammed.
“What we noticed after assessing all the data is that a shared office with Dave increases the risk of depression by 80%,” Aarensten said. “But equally alarming is that those who work nearby in adjacent offices, or those who must regularly communicate with Dave were also at risk. Even employees from other companies that must deal with him in one way or the other by phone or email are susceptible. We can identify a growing risk factor which increases exponentially the closer one is to Dave and the more one interacts with him.”
“Ugh,” Aarensten added. “Just thinking about Dave, I mean, I don’t even work with him, but… ahhh.”
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In light of the study, office managers are being urged to put up posters highlighting the dangers of Dave-related depression. A Health Canada initiative offers free colour coded posters clearly indicating at-risk locations within a 100ft radius of Dave, with yellow in the 100-40ft radius, orange in the 40-20ft radius, red for the 20ft-10ft radius, and a black circle for any distance less than 10ft.
Current Dave colleagues feel the initiative is a step in the right direction, but many worry if these measures can really cure Dave-related depression once it sets in.
“I’ve been suffering from depression for two years since working in the same office as Dave,” said Marie Shappington, a graphic designer. “I always had to work with him on this one account, but it ended up being more work than if I had done it myself.”
“I was going to file a complaint with HR to try to get him fired,” added Shappington. “But then I remind myself he’s the only one who brings chocolate donuts to staff meetings.”
with files by Joel Buxton and Keith Cochrane