World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2017
New survey results looking at Stigma in the Workplace showed that 61% had disclosed their Mental Illness to their manager, 69% of respondents experienced negative or no response when they had discussed it with them. One of the participants explained: “It felt uncomfortable when sharing my mental health issues with management.”
The 10th of October 2017 is Mental Health Awareness Day, and The South African Depression and Anxiety (SADAG) has conducted an online survey focusing on Stigma in the Workplace, which has become a key problem to deal with in the South African business environments. SADAG released research 2 years ago that found that 1 in 4 South African employees had been diagnosed with Depression. “Depression affects cognitive functioning such as decision making, concentration, memory and problem-solving abilities. Depression negatively impacts productivity. If an employee has Depression but is at work, they are 5 times less productive than an employee who was absent due to Depression,” says Psychiatrist and Clinical Psychologist, Dr Frans Korb.
SADAG's new statistics on Stigma in the Workplace (Seff-Bin-Mubarak) are based on 499 participants who completed the online survey. Of these, 79% were female and 21% males, with 59% aged between 31 and 50. “I was made to feel weak and was rejected and felt unworthy,” said one of the respondents. Interestingly, 44% of the respondents indicated that they were uncomfortable with disclosing their Mental Health issue to a manager, which callers often express when they call the SADAG helpline looking for advice or help. While 29% indicated that they had not told anyone yet about their Mental Health issue yet, only 16% of those who had disclosed had felt comfortable with discussing their Mental Health problems with their manager or supervisor. Another respondent mentioned that “It was proposed I consult the companies mental health services“.
SADAG Operations Director, Cassey Chambers, says: “This is one of the reasons why it’s vital to examine how Mental Health is managed in the workplace and what procedures are in place to ensure that affected employees are encouraged to and supported in seeking treatment.”
The survey suggests that 86% of respondents, having a Mental Illness has made their work life more difficult. “It directly impacts on my ability to cope.” shared a female employee. This displays the urgency for Mental Health Awareness within organisations, SADAG Founder, Zane Wilson said: “The results of this study emphasize that more education and training is needed for managers, who may want to help, but they don’t feel well enough trained or equipped to do so.
While 16% of participants had not received a formal diagnosis by a Mental HEalth professional, 46% of them had consulted with both a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist. Yet, a majority of 56% indicated that they had taken time off work over the last 12 months due to their Mental Illness. Respondents cited a number of reasons as to why they had refrained from consulting with a professional. The main one relates to their personal finances, namely "limited resources and no medical aid". Others explained: “I cannot take time off work to see a psychologist”. Personal attitudes and beliefs about Mental Health consultations and diagnoses can result in feelings of shame, embarrassment, and fear of isolation and stigmatisation. It has become essential for organisations to increase their understanding and open respectful dialogue around Mental Health concerns.
This is where SADAG plays a vital role, by providing Mental Healthcare workshops, talks, wellness days, and supplying companies with educational material for their staff. “By bringing Depression, Bipolar, Panic, and Trauma out into the open and raising awareness about the symptoms and treatment of these disorders, we will make the SA workplace healthier,” encourages Cassey Chambers. You can contact SADAG via www.sadag.org or call 0800 70 80 90 for more information.