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BONMEH advocates workplace mental health policies

Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital
Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and stress, are common and are affecting individuals, their families, co-workers and the broader community.

That is why Botswana Network for Mental Health (BONMEH) has called on the business community in Botswana to have comprehensive mental health policies.

According to BONMEH spokesperson, Charity Kennedy, these mental health problems have a direct impact on workplaces through increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, and increased costs.

She said this at a media briefing on Mental Health at the Workplace, which was held in Gaborone recently.

She said that mental health problems were the result of a complex interplay between biological, psychological, social and environmental factors.

Kennedy added that there was increasing evidence that both the content and context of work can play a role in the development of mental health problems in the workplace.

“I emphasise that it is important for every company to have comprehensive mental health policies.

I believe that as much as we do have physical first aid, let there be allowance for counselling for employees. If possible, let workplaces have in-house counsellors. Good productivity is directly linked to good mental health,” she said.

She explained that customer care was influenced by how mentally empowered an employee is because they work with emotions.

She said it was important to address mental health issues of employees as some of them might be overwhelmed by excessive workload, lack of participation and control in the workplace, conflict, lack of recognition at work, inequality, poor working conditions and other factors that may bring negativity in employees.

Kennedy said when an employee is not in a healthy

mental state, she or he would likely bring the company down through poor performance, taking their frustration out on customers by shouting at them, or not talking to them in an appropriate manner.

She pointed out that they found it imperative to teach the media about mental health issues so that they could spread the word to the community.

“I emphasise the importance of media, noting that they have their own burn out in the line of their work.

Media houses are the mouthpiece in building the nation, and to have them understand mental health issues will aid us in the battle against mental illness stigma,” she added.

 The World Mental Health Day was commemorated yesterday at Water Affairs Grounds hosted by the Greater Gaborone DHMT under the theme, Mental Health in the Workplace.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), work is good for mental health, but a negative working environment can lead to physical and mental health problems.

“Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, with many of these people also suffering from symptoms of anxiety.

A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity. 

Unemployment is a well-recognised risk factor for mental health problems, while returning to, or getting work is protective.

A negative working environment may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity,” WHO noted.




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