Mental illness takes toll at work
Depression has cost SA around R232bn
DEPRESSION has cost South Africa more than R232-billion, according to a study of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
This was published as mental health this week.
Dr Sebolelo Seape, chairperson of the Psychiatry Management Group in SA, said organisations and individuals alike need to become more aware of the impact that mental health has on the workplace.
“With more than 9.7% of the South African population (or 4.5-million people) suffering from depression the chances are quite real that the person sitting next to you in the office will at some stage in their lives will be coping with the condition. It’s not only the duty of the individuals suffering from mental health issues but also organisations and colleagues to fight the associated stigma.”
Seape said depression caused problems with memory, procrastination, extreme fatigue, difficulty in concentrating, anxiety, fear and panic, which are added to work-related stresses, and can severely diminish the output of an employee.
“In South Africa, employees are very likely to keep working during periods of depression, despite the impact on their productivity and performance. This can be due to fear of losing their jobs, being ostracised by colleagues, or lack of mental health knowledge, not understanding why they are going through a spell of periods of not being well.
“Even those who take a sick day here and there because they are not mentally up for it are in essence self-diagnosing, and their perceived coping mechanism will draw negative attention.
“In addition they could be losing out on any support structures offered by their employer, putting their career and relationship with colleagues at risk,” Seape said. — the world focused on