Workers’ mental well-being must be imperative
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.