Work­ers’ men­tal well-be­ing must be im­per­a­tive

Afro Voice (National Edition) - - News - LERATO DIALE ler­a­tod@afro­

SUP­PORT­ING the men­tal well­be­ing of em­ploy­ees should not be an op­tion but an im­per­a­tive, the South African Fed­er­a­tion for Men­tal Health said ahead of Em­ployee Aware­ness Week which starts on Mon­day.

The fed­er­a­tion said em­ploy­ees of­ten do not feel com­fort­able ad­dress­ing their men­tal health is­sues with their em­ploy­ers due to stigma.

“Stigma is per­va­sive through­out so­ci­ety, but can be in­creas­ingly per­ni­cious in the work­place, where em­ploy­ees fear reprisals for what they per­ceive to be weak­ness,” the fed­er­a­tion said.

A 2017 sur­vey by the South African De­pres­sion and Anx­i­ety Group found that only one in six em­ploy­ees with a men­tal ill­ness was com­fort­able dis­clos­ing to their man­ager. The fed­er­a­tion said there are ways in which the work en­vi­ron­ment can be mod­i­fied to make it con­ducive for the pro­mo­tion of good men­tal health among em­ploy­ees.

The fed­er­a­tion said flex­i­ble work­ing hours, in­tro­duc­ing tasks in­cre­men­tally af­ter an em­ployee has been on sick leave, cre­at­ing a quiet work en­vi­ron­ment, change of su­per­vi­sor if required and re­as­sign­ment of em­ployee to an al­ter­na­tive post are some of the ad­just­ments that can be made to make it eas­ier for an em­ployee with men­tal ill­ness.

“It is also im­por­tant to raise aware­ness of men­tal health is­sues through­out the work­place, in­volv­ing em­ploy­ees and their man­agers so as to dis­pel the afore­said stigma and en­sur­ing that it is made known what steps are to be taken in the event that an em­ployee does de­velop a men­tal health is­sue or has a pre­ex­ist­ing con­di­tion,” the fed­er­a­tion said.

Mean­while The Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion South Africa has urged em­ploy­ers to in­vest in the health and well be­ing of their em­ploy­ees by be­ing proac­tive in re­duc­ing the neg­a­tive ef­fects of stress and in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity.

The foun­da­tion said in­vest­ing in the well­be­ing of em­ploy­ees af­fects the morale of staff and can help lower ab­sen­teeism, the risk of dis­abil­ity and life­style dis­eases.

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