Despite significant advances in dealing with mental health, the onus remains with everyone to understand what mental health is and what are the symptoms that one needs to look out for. It is unfortunate that misunderstanding, and ignorance remain formidable barriers to effectively treat mental health disorders.

A lack of physical symptoms to comprehend mental health, combined with a lack of appropriate terminology to best describe psychological symptoms, also contribute to the complexity of mental illness in the South African context, making it even more difficult to understand. We unfortunately live in a society where we are not prepared to deal with misfortunes that we sometimes experience in our day to day lives but it is important to be mindful of self-care. Having a stable job is great to have but the working environment has proven to be one of the biggest contributors to negative mental health symptoms. Ever since the covid 19 pandemic, companies have opted to continue and introduce new working ways that are not necessarily appropriate for everyone. Pressure to make sound financial decisions, while trying to keep your stable income is at times quite overwhelming and that alone leads to symptoms of mental health exhaustion.

Workplace stress can contribute to a variety of physical conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and poor mental health can lead to burn-out, which severely limits employees’ ability to contribute to meaningfully in both their personal and professional lives. It is estimated that poor mental health causes more than half of work-related disabilities and that mental illness cause up to 40% of workplace absence.

It appears that self-care encouragement and initiatives that drive appreciation are very viable for a healthy work environment. Music, dance, and drama therapy, which encourages self-expression and appreciation for others, is a low-cost solution that has also proven to be effective in assisting people with mental illnesses. It also helps those who are oblivious to their condition. This type of therapy promotes self- healing, it helps those who are unaware of their condition and foster a sense of belonging, which is an effective method of suicide prevention.

Employee mental health and working in an ethically supportive environment are inextricably linked. Concerns can be easily raised, authority questioned, and decisions challenged without fear of repercussions in a supportive ethical culture. It is reflected in how psychologically safe people feel, which is an important factor in the employee’s well-being. Well-being will not improve if employees are under stress from targets, facing job uncertainty, working in a hostile, bullying environment, or forced to compromise on their own organisation’s ethical values.

A healthy working environment and management go hand in hand, and there is compelling evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental well-being are more productive. It’s important that managers at all levels are trained in supporting those they work with. According to research, managers who are trained to have effective and regular confidential meetings with employees and are sensitive to the challenges they may be facing both at work and in their personal lives can help reduce work-related sick leave.

Ethical management fosters a psychologically secure work environment in which employees can voice their concernsaffectively.

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