Men­tal ill­ness takes toll at work

De­pres­sion has cost SA around R232bn

Daily Dispatch - - News - By SIYA TSEWU

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

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