Uphold mental wellness at work

Mental health

Mental health can range from mild situations such as stress to bipolar disorders, which are more severe.

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What you need to know:

  • Much needs to be done to ensure that mental health services are accessible and affordable for all.
  • Creating a mentally healthy workplace involves more than just offering employee assistance programmes.

We live in a world where stress, anxiety, and depression are increasingly prevalent. Prioritising mental well-being is essential for leading a fulfilling and balanced life.

A 2019 WHO World Mental Health Report, published in June 2022, revealed that of one billion people living with a mental disorder, 15 percent of working-age adults were affected. According to the study, poor working environments – including discrimination and inequality, excessive workloads, low job control and job insecurity –pose a risk to mental health.

This calls for action, especially at the workplace. One of the most significant shifts in recent years is the acknowledgement that mental health is just as important as physical health.

This recognition has led to more open conversations, breaking down stigmas and barriers to seeking help. However, there is still much work to be done to ensure that mental health services are accessible and affordable for all.

Mental well-being budget

In many countries in Africa, there is little or no access to mental health care due to low government investment. On average, African governments allocate less than 50 US cents per capita for mental health, well below the recommended US$ 2 per capita for low-income countries. Additionally, the mental well-being budget is only a fraction of what employers spend on physical health benefits.

This is an indication that employers need to recognise that mental health is an integral part of employee wellness and should be treated with the same level of importance as physical health.

This means providing resources and support for mental health issues, such as access to counselling services, mental health days, and flexible work arrangements.

Creating a mentally healthy workplace involves more than just offering employee assistance programmes or occasional wellness seminars. It requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes of stress, burnout, and mental health issues while fostering a culture of support and empathy.

Neema Onsongo is Head of People & Culture, Stanbic Bank