July is Psychosocial Disability Awareness month
"Mental health in the workplace: supporting colleagues with mental health problems"
The negative effects of prolonged periods of stress on mental health have been well documented, and recent studies are indicating that South Africans are living with dangerously high levels of stress. According to Statistics South Africa, employee absenteeism costs the South African economy between R12 billion and 16 billion annually, a large portion of which can be attributed to workplace stress, burn-out and employee ill health. Recently, a study by Bloomberg ranked South Africa as the second most stressed nation on the planet. A similar study conducted by Ipsos Global and Reuters found that as many as 53 percent of SA’s working population are not taking their annual leave, resulting in increased stress and eventual burnout.
All of this makes stress and mental health in the workplace a topical subject to focus on for Psychosocial Disability Awareness Month.
High stress levels have been linked to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, and can also lead to substance abuse. In severe cases these problems can lead to a person becoming suicidal.
In light of this, SAFMH believes it is vitally important that people educate themselves regarding mental health, both at work and in their personal lives. This will enable them to support themselves and their colleagues during stressful and difficult times.
People experiencing mental health problems in the workplace often also face discrimination and abuse, either from their co-workers or from management. If you see that one of your colleagues is being discriminated against it is important to educate them regarding the many laws that protect them and their rights in South Africa. Human Rights abuses can also be reported directly to The Mental Health Watch reporting system – email@example.com, +27 (0)11 781 1852, or sms or whatsapp 0760788722.
Throughout the month of July, SAFMH will be creating awareness on a national level through the use of press releases and social media posts regarding mental health in the workplace and the importance of supporting colleagues who experience mental health problems.
SAFMH would like to ask stakeholders and members of the media to work with us in creating awareness at community level regarding mental health in the workplace and the importance of supporting colleagues who have mental health problems. Engage with different businesses and organisations in your communities to ensure that employees are educated regarding mental health and their rights in the workplace as a proactive measure to a) educate employees and businesses and b) help safeguard employees against discrimination and human rights abuses.
Further information regarding mental health in the workplace and symptoms and treatment of mental health problems can be requested from SAFMH.
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