Mental health in the workplace


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According to the World Health Organisation “WHO”, an estimated 264 million people suffer from depression globally. This is the leading cause of disability, with many of these individuals also suffering from anxiety. A recent WHO study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy in excess of US$ 1 trillion per annum in lost productivity.

While being unemployed can lead to a significant amount of stress, a negative working environment may also lead to physical and mental health problems. This may result in the harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity. Ongoing research indicates that workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and benefit from other economic gains.

There are a number of risk factors for mental health in the workplace. Some of these risks may relate to interactions between the type of work being performed, the organisational and managerial environment, along with the skills and competencies of employees. Another factor that needs to be considered is the amount of support that it available to employees in order for them to carry out their work. Further risks to mental health include, inflexible working hours, limited participation in decision making, poor health and safety standards, poor communication and management practices.

As more research is conducted, it is becoming obvious that the mental health of employees is a critical element in their overall health and that poor mental health and stressors at the workplace can contribute to a range of physical illnesses like hypertension, diabetes and heart conditions. In addition, poor mental health can also lead to burn-out, seriously affecting employee’s ability to contribute positively in both their personal and professional lives.


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