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Mental Health Awareness: SA fifth ‘most depressed’ country in Africa

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From 1 to 31 October 2019, South Africa (SA) will be observing and commemorating Mental Health Awareness month. The goal of the initiative is to educate the public about mental illness and to reduce the stigma and discrimination experience by those who live with it.

From 7 to 11 October 2019 is World Mental Health week.

According to the South African government, around 400 million people worldwide suffer from mental or neurological disorders and psychosocial ones. They also include disorders related to alcohol and drug abuse.

The most common mental health disordersSome of the most common mental health issues are: depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and work stress. People who could be affected are individuals, their families, co-workers, and communities.

Mental health disorders can affect the workplace in a negative way by increasing absenteeism, reducing productivity, and increasing costs. Unfortunately, only a small number of South Africans actually seek treatment for their mental disorders.

Mental illness can be treated

The good news is that disorders don’t have to be a life sentence for those living with them. Mental illness can be treated at your nearest clinic, hospital or by a healthcare provider.

It can also be prevented and if you suspect you have a mental illness, reach out for help.

Causes of mental illness in the workplace

What causes mental health disorders is a “complex interplay between biological, psychological, social and environmental factors.” Evidence has revealed that “both the content and context of work can play a role in the development of mental health problems in the workplace.”

Some of these factors are:

  • One’s workload (both excessive and insufficient work)
  • Lack of participation and control in the workplace
  • Having monotonous or unpleasant tasks
  • Suffering from role ambiguity or conflict
  • Not being recognised at work
  • Inequity
  • Having poor interpersonal relationships
  • Having poor working conditions
  • Poor leadership and communication
  • Struggles with conflicting home and work demand

How the workplace can help fight mental disorders
The workplace is an area that could affect one’s mental health positively or negatively. It could also worsen existing problems or contribute to the development of a mental health problem.

Employers are encouraged to have programmes that promote the mental health of workers. This would allow problems to be picked up early and treated effectively.

The different types of mental and brain disorders
Mental and brain disorders may vary in severity. Others are transient, like an acute stress disorder; there are also periodic ones like bipolar disorder which is characterised by periods of exaggerated elation followed by periods of depression.

Another one is long lasting and progressive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Other conditions include:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Dementia
  • Depressive disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

The most depressed countries in Africa by rank

  1. Djibouti
  2. Cape Verde and Tunisia
  3. Lesotho
  4. Botswana and Ethiopia
  5. Uganda and South Africa
  6. Algeria, Morocco, and Libya

Source: The South African

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