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Things to understand about mental health in the workplace

Warning signs to watch for in yourself.

Tomorrow is the last day of the month, a quick recap, earlier in the month we celebrated World Mental Health Day under the theme Mental Health in the Workplace.

According to ER24, during our adult lives, a large proportion of our time is spent at work.

Our experience in the workplace is one of the factors determining our overall wellbeing.

Employers and managers who put in place workplace initiatives to promote mental health and to support employees who have mental disorders see gains not only in the health of their employees but also in their productivity at work.

A negative working environment, on the other hand, may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression and anxiety disorders are common mental disorders that have an impact on our ability to work and to work productively.

Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, the leading cause of disability. More than 260 million are living with anxiety disorders. Many of these people live with both.

Warning signs to watch for in yourself:

  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Loss of libido
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Not wanting to do things you previously enjoyed
  • Amenorrhoea (skipped or ceased periods in women and young girls not on contraceptive medication)

In others:

  • Changes in behaviour
  • Helplessness and hopelessness
  • Emotional withdrawal, such as not engaging with friends or going out
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • A preoccupation with death or dying
  • Moodiness, irritability, sadness or feeling blue

If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, you need to see a doctor who can assess the situation, prescribe medication if necessary and put you in touch with a psychologist or psychiatrist. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is a great resource for guidance and support. Visit the website at www.sadag.org.

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