Tunde and Musa work in a Department where the new Head (Mr Ojo) is always screaming at everybody and insulting the staff members for any and every offence you can imagine. If he meets you standing, you are in trouble. If he meets you sitting down and not appearing busy, you are very lazy and indolent. If you ask him for clarifications regarding assigned tasks, it means you are too stupid to use your own brain. ‘Or do you want me to come and do your work for you? What am I paying you a salary for?’ He would scream.
Everyone now lives in terror and become anxious when they have to come to work every day. When he travels on official assignments, everyone usually heaves a sigh of relief and are able to relax. Indeed, Tunde is contemplating resigning from the office and starting a business on his own. ‘It will be better for my peace of mind’, he told Musa. ‘I cannot continue to function in such a tense atmosphere again. I am even developing hypertension. Worst still when I get home every day, I am so irritable that I sometimes shout on my wife and children. I have had enough, and I can’t take any more.’ He concluded.
The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not just the absence of disease or infirmity. However, the mental component of health is often neglected and forgotten. The 10th of October every year is set aside to commemorate the World Mental Health Day, and this year’s theme is Mental Health in the Work Place.
There is a bi-directional relationship between the mental health of the employees and the efficiency or productivity of the work place/organization. We know that 1 in every 4 adults will have mental health challenges. And 20% of all employees in the work force may experience a mental health condition. Indeed, the estimated cost to the global economy of depression and anxiety alone is $1trillion US dollars…and this may be an under-estimate.
So, it is not an unusual problem for people to have mental health challenges at the work place. But you may wonder why you don’t readily identify those with these problems in your work place. For one simple reason only: It is often hidden and viewed as a source of embarrassment and shame. This is unfortunate. Estimates show that up to 70% of those with mental health problems hide it in their work place for a variety of reasons. There is shame and fear of being stigmatized, but there is also the real fear that they may lose their jobs or fail to ever secure one if it is known that they have had a mental health challenge.