In Mental Health Awareness Month, Tshikululu’s message to corporate South Africa is that it is our duty as leaders of our respective organisations to give voice to the important issue of mental wellness in the workplace and to act on it.
Mental illness is a growing problem world-wide. In Mental Health Awareness Month, Tshikululu Social Investments highlights the importance of the monitoring and maintenance of mental health programmes in the workplace to address this growing concern.
According to global monitoring company The Lancet, in a report titled, ‘Global prevalence and burden of depressive and anxiety disorders due to the Covid-19 pandemic’ the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic has created an environment where many determinants of poor mental health are exacerbated. The report states that mental disorders are among the leading causes of the global health-related burden, and the emergence of the pandemic in 2020 against this backdrop has raised many questions around the resulting effects on mental health via its direct psychological effects and long-term economic and social consequences.
In South Africa, whilst the prevalence of Covid-19 has subsided, we are now faced with new challenges including a tough economic climate, personal hardships, uncertainty about the provision of basic services such as electricity and a volatile political environment. In many of these instances we do not have control, but for those that we can influence, key is how to approach mental wellness in the workplace.
As a Social Investment Specialist, Tshikululu has spent a lot of time reflecting on mental wellness and the different conversations companies are having about how to deal with it. One of the key insights is that two years post Covid-19, the traditional employee wellness models may need a revamp in terms of relevance, reach, interventions and impact.
The potential impact of mental illness on an employee’s wellbeing cannot be understated or ignored by companies. One way of supporting compassionate leave, so as to contribute to employee mental wellness. Like the focus on a healthy lifestyle in general, mental wellness should be an accepted culture of ongoing and proactive discipline. Being intentional about employee experience sets people up to thrive, not just to survive.
Mental wellness has always been part of Tshikululu’s business operations and it has evolved over the years, from informal employee assistance programmes to more formalised programmes. But Tshikululu believes that mental wellness goes beyond wellness programmes and should also focus on the daily realities of team members. It needs to consider: how we lead and support our teams to thrive; policies that support an empowering operating environment; induction and onboarding programmes that support new team members, consider our diversity and different needs; and how we leverage individual and team contributions to build a strong, thriving, and healthy business. The output of creating a work culture that prioritises mental wellness and purpose in each individual employee also generates trust – that we are all working together towards a common purpose.
“What is not measured will not happen and the same applies to mental wellness in the workplace.”
Tshikululu is committed to their purpose of maximising the impact of social investments. Their message to corporate South Africa is that, what is not measured will not happen and the same applies to mental wellness in the workplace. It is our duty as leaders of our respective organisations to give voice to this important issue and to act on it.