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By Sabrina Niyigaruye

In our present society, we do not make a link between mental health and our workspace. In our african communities, mental health does not have a space anywhere. Therefore, growing up in an environment where nothing pain-related interferes with work, it is really hard for our communities to understand the importance of mental health. In fact, most of the time, we are taught that mental health problems are part of the working experience. Although, this mentality is not present solely in our communities. It is also present in the western communities.   An article from Forbes lately surprised many as they informed their audience that ignoring mental health in the workplace has a cost. Although, for a long time, multiple had been given the idea that acknowledging mental health would have a greater cost.

It turns out that depression and anxiety have a significant economic impact; the estimated cost to the global economy is US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity.

If we implement the resources and structures that promote mental health in the workplace, there is a high return in productivity. In fact, for every US$ 1 put into scaled up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of US$ 4 in improved health and productivity. The lack of resources does not only affect productivity. It also increases staff turnover.     Although, we have heard it multiple times that we need to install best practices for mental health promotion. How do we actually put it in practice?   Here are some practical ways to promote mental health in the workplace we have found from the WHO:

  • Understanding the needs and opportunities of individual employees in order to create better workplace policies around mental health.
  • Develop sources of support
  • Identify distress and provide the resources needed.
  • Let your workers know that they are valued (recognition and rewarding is important)
  • Promote a healthy work-life balance
  • Install career development programs

  Most importantly, if you are aware of the risk of mental health, you will not ignore it in your environment.    


Sources: WHO. (2019, May). Mental health in the workplace. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/mental_health/in_the_workplace/en/. Sime, C. (2019, April 17). The Cost Of Ignoring Mental Health In The Workplace. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/carleysime/2019/04/17/the-cost-of-ignoring-mental-health-in-the-workplace/#541089753726.

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    Sabrina Niyigaruye


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