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Mental Health is a national problem – play your part to fight the stigma

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in four people globally will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide[1].

This World Mental Health Day (10 October), Life Mental Health – a leading provider of mental health services through the Life Healthcare Group – emphasises the importance of awareness and education around the symptoms of mental health disorders and, most importantly, playing a role to fight the stigma and to help people who are suffering from the illness to seek treatment.

“The increasing demands of today’s fast-paced business environment mean employees need more personal health, wellness and lifestyle support than ever before. It’s well documented that happy, healthy employees are more efficient and more productive,” says Dr Riyas Fadal, Life Mental Health National Clinical Manager.

 Mental health problems are the result of a complex interplay between biological, psychological, social and environmental factors. There is increasing evidence that both the content and context of work can play a role in the development of mental health problems in the workplace. For instance, a negative working environment may lead to physical and mental health problems; harmful use of substances or alcohol; absenteeism; and reduced productivity[2].

Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and job stress are common, affecting individuals, their families and co-workers, as well as the broader community. Adding to this are the myths, confusion and misinformation about mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and personality disorders, which cause anxiety, create stereotypes and promote stigma about depression and suicide. In addition, they have a direct impact on businesses through increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, and increased costs.

“Research shows that there is a major link between depression and suicide. We all feel sadness, loneliness, grief and disappointments at times, and these are normal reactions to life’s struggles – but sometimes it is more than just a passing mood and undiagnosed depression can lead to tragedy,” says Dr Fadal.

While treatments are available, nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental health condition never seek help from a health professional. Stigma, discrimination and neglect prevent care and treatment from reaching people with mental disorders. Where there is neglect, there is little or no understanding. Where there is no understanding, there is neglect[3].

Like any chronic condition, mental health conditions and illness can be managed successfully through disease management. Corporate Employee Wellness Programmes manage both clinical and psychological mental health conditions amongst employees and medical scheme beneficiaries.

“A growing body of evidence suggests that employers can reduce costs by investing in the health and well-being of their employees. This includes both the direct costs of providing healthcare and indirect costs such as absenteeism and reduced productivity,” says Dr Leanne Mandim, Head: Health and Wellness Solutions at Life Healthcare.

The mental health and wellbeing of employees in the organisation is critical for maintaining sustainable levels of employee engagement, resilience in the face of organisational change, motivation, and innovation. Through an integrated employee wellness approach, employers can benefit from the positive impact on productivity and business performance,” adds Dr Mandim.

“While Life Mental Health offers specialised mental healthcare services, we are mindful that we are treating a person and not just an illness. It is important that families and communities all ensure that they display empathy and understanding, as well as acknowledge the challenges a sufferer faces, which leads to wellness and diminishes the hurt and pain associated with that stigma”, concludes Dr Fadal.

If you suspect someone you know is experiencing mental health problems and needs urgent support email to find out where your nearest Life Mental Health facility is or visit




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