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Stress at Work

According to a survey by Profmed published in 2017 (the third annual Profmed Stress Index), work is the leading stress factor for South African professionals, with one in ten taking time off in 2016 from stress-related illnesses.  The survey also showed an increase in the number of people who felt that they were not managing their stress levels.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) noted in 2017 that the slowing economy, high unemployment and the cost of living are putting a strain on workers’ mental health.  On average‚ people with depression took 18 days of work due to their depression in South Africa. SADAG also noted an increase in calls for help from South Africans facing financial pressure during 2017.

“With the economic stress and financial pressures that a lot of South Africans are experiencing‚ we are seeing more callers phoning for help,” says Cassey Chambers, SADAG’s Operations Director. “From one issue‚ such as financial stress‚ it can snowball and lead to various problems that impact all aspects of a person’s life and make them feel so overwhelmed that it can lead to stress‚ anxiety‚ depression and even suicide.”

SADAG’s online survey on stigma in the workplace in 2017 revealed that a little over half the respondents had taken time off work during the previous year due to their mental illness.  And only one in six employees with mental illness said that they were comfortable disclosing their condition with their manager.

In separate research on depression and the workplace, SADAG found that one in four employees had been diagnosed with depression.

"Depression affects cognitive functioning such as decision making, concentration, memory and problem-solving abilities. Depression negatively impacts productivity. If an employee has depression but is at work, they are five times less productive than an employee who was absent due to depression," said psychiatrist and clinical psychologist, Dr Frans Korb in an article in Business Day to mark World Mental Health Day on 10 October, 2017.

Zanele Hlatshwayo, a young professional who recently suffered the loss of her father from suicide, has decided to raise awareness about depression and suicide.

“In South Africa, 23 people commit suicide every day, mostly men – but teen suicide is on the rise. This silent killer is the scourge of our beautiful country,” she says.

Hlatshwayo, who recently graduated from Wits Business School with a Master of Management in Strategic Marketing, found that her coping mechanism when she lost her Dad was to run.  And now, she has set a target of running 18 races between January and July 2018 to raise a targeted R180 000 for SADAG’s Suicide Helpline (0800 567 567) which offers free telephonic counselling to people throughout SA who feel hopeless and helpless.

“I’m encouraging people to follow my running journey on social media platforms and on YouTube as I and others share stories on how we survived depression and suicide.  Let’s help the suppressed who feel alone, let's demystify depression and suicide and reach out to those who need it, before it’s too late.”

Follow Zanele’s story on Facebook Rise18, Twitter @zanhlatshwayo and Instagram rise 18_.

For more visit https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/rise18

Contact SADAG: 0800 567 567 or visit www.sadag.org.

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