Health

Don’t drive your employees nuts, experts ask employers

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PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Employers have been asked to prioritise early diagnosis of mental health problems among staff in order to reduce productivity losses that negatively impact company performance.

Medical experts speaking at the Mental Wellness and Counselling Conference organised by the Nation Media Group (NMG) in collaboration with the Institute of Human Resource Management and KCPA said that by the time a person is checked into a mental facility, it means early signs of the illness were ignored.

“As an employer, it does not matter how much you have invested in technology as this will have little returns if you do not invest in your employees’ welfare,” said Kenya Counselling and Psychological Association (KCPA) chairman Dr Elias Gikundi.

The Mental Health Task Force set up by the government established that one in every 10 Kenyans suffered from common mental health conditions, with depression and anxiety as the most prevalent disorders.

Harassment and bullying at the workplace are commonly reported problems with experts noting that these can have substantial adverse impact on mental health.

According to the WHO, depression and anxiety have a significant economic impact with the estimated cost to global economy being $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.

“When you ignore mental health, dealing with it later becomes more expensive,” said the founder of Chiromo Hospital Group Dr Frank Njenga.

The Covid-19 pandemic is said to have deepened the mental health crisis largely due to coinciding socio-economic determinants such as unemployment, and the disruption to normal workplace practice after people were forced to work in isolation from home to control the spread of the virus.

NMG Chief Executive Officer Stephen Gitagama that it is paramount that mental illness be treated as a national emergency.

“The first doctor should be yourself and the second one should be the person next to you. I encourage all of us to take care of each other,” he said.

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