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Humphery Kofie-country facilitator, GHAMEC
Humphrey Kofie- country facilitator, GHAMEC

Stakeholders raise awareness on mental health at work place

The Stakeholder Council of the Mental Health Leadership and Advocacy Programme in Ghana, (mhLAP) commemorates World Mental Health Day which takes place on 10 October each year. The Council acknowledges that it is a day for global mental health awareness-raising and advocacy. This year, World Mental Health Day focuses on mental health at the workplace.

The day is being celebrated  globally on the theme  Mental Health at Work Places”

Work place mental health, the Council believes is a vital concern considering that the number of people with mental conditions of working age and the productivity losses due to common mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety . A recent WHO-led study estimated that these common mental disorders account for more than 50 million lost years of work and cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion a year in lost productivity. In the WHO European Region alone, the estimated cost exceeds US$ 140 billion per year. A further notable finding is that, compared to other health conditions, depression and anxiety disorders impose a 30% higher toll on the employer and economy

The workplace is the most important environment to discuss mental health and illness, yet it is the last place we typically hear about it. Employees are afraid of discussing it with co-workers and bosses. They don’t want to lose their jobs, damage relationships or risk future employers learning of illnesses and judging them. The stigma of mental illness keeps them silent.

Well-being at the workplace influences health and productivity, and a negative work environment may lead to physical and mental health problems, alcohol consumption and substance abuse. The risk of developing work-related depression, stress and burnout can be addressed by tackling some of the risks to mental health at the workplace

We can all benefit from the warmth and wisdom of older generations. But while many people look forward to a fulfilling old age, more than one in five adults aged 60 and over experiences mental or neurological disorders such as dementia and depression.At a global level, one-in-four people will likely experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. Worldwide over 300 million people are estimated to have depression, equivalent to 4.4% of the world’s population, and 800,000 people take their own lives each year.

Health care professionals and older people themselves cannot identify these mental health problems. Reluctantly, people do not seek help because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. Older adults are the most vulnerable to physical neglect and shameful mistreatment an abuse that can itself trigger mental health problems.
This year’s World Mental Health Day focuses on older adults, offering an opportunity to raise awareness of these problems and overcome them.Interventions and good practices that protect and promote mental health in the workplace according to the Council include informing staff that help is available, involving employees in decision-making and supporting a good work-life balance. By addressing mental health issues in the workplace and investing in mental health care for workers, employers can increase productivity and employee retention. Untreated mental disorders in employees can result in diminished productivity at work, reduced rates of labour participation, foregone tax based income, increase in workplace accidents, and higher staff turnover.

There are however a number of steps that organisations can take to support their employee’s mental health. The risk factors for stress in the workplace can be modified, and an organisational climate that promotes wellbeing and creativity can be developed by targeting workplace policies as well as the needs of individual employees. Similarly, effective treatments exist for common mental disorders, and an employer can facilitate access to care to those who may need it

The protection of mental health at work has more impact if it focuses on preventive strategies. It is essential to handle the causes and the consequences of work-related stress with a combination of both collective and individual measures. Creating a mental health friendly workplace can help to prevent employees from experiencing burnout and other mental health problems.

On this World Mental Health Day, the Stakeholder Council of Ghana, call for greater efforts to carry out the Action Plan for the sake of all people with mental health problems, especially those who are older and require special attention, putting in place appropriate structures to address the GAP.

 

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