The light Magazine

No one has immunity against mental illness

Written by: Daniel Tuyizere
Friday, October 27th, 2017, 16:19

As a large proportion of the time in adulthood is spent at work, the experience in the workplace is one of the factors determining our overall wellbeing.


It is in this line that depression and anxiety disorders are common mental disorders that have an impact on our ability to work, and to work productively.


Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, the leading cause of disability. More than 260 million are living with anxiety disorders. Many of these people live with both. A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity.


Dr Yvonne Kayiteshonga, Mental Health Division Manager at RBC cautioned that everyone can be prone to mental illness and that prevention and seeking early treatment is paramount.


“No one has immunity against mental illness. People who are facing these illnesses are scared of admitting that they are and refrain from seeking help which makes it worse,” she warned.


She mentioned that awareness of the causes, early detection of the signs of burn out, participation of all employees in decision making, recognition of good performers are some of the factors that can help fight stress in the work place.


Employers and managers who put in place workplace initiatives to promote mental health and to support employees who have mental disorders see gains not only in the health of their employees but also in their productivity at work.


A negative working environment, on the other hand, may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity.


Rwanda joined the rest of the world on 10th October to celebrate the world mental health day under the theme “Mental health in the workplace”. Since then, a series of activities sensitizing on the theme have been conducted, these includes; sessions with the in charge of mental health services in all district hospitals, a symposium for human recourses officers of public and private sectors and the health sector symposium.


According to the World Mental Health Day report 2017, one in five in the workplace experience a mental health condition, and while many employers are developing policies to support a healthy workforce, there is no shared vision for mental health in workplace. Estimates show that up to 80% of individuals with serious mental illnesses are unemployed while 70% want to work.


In terms of occupational health, Rwanda has developed a national policy on Occupation Health and Safety in the workplace and has also adopted the ministerial order n°01 of 17/05/2012 determining modalities of establishing and functioning of Occupational Health and Safety Committees, whereby in its Article 50: “Prevention and management of work-related stress”.


According to Patrick Kananga, a specialist in charge of safety and health at work at Ministry of Public Service and Labour, the government urges every employer to ensure the protection and promotion of the health and safety of the workers in the workplace. The government has also put in place measures to promote the well-being of the workers, including promotion of sports activities.



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