South Africans recently commemorated Mental Health Awareness Month. The reason was not only to educate the public about mental health, but also to reduce the stigma and discrimination that people with mental illness are often subjected to.

Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and job stress are common, and affect individuals, their families and co-workers, and the broader community. In addition, they have a direct impact on workplaces through increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, and increased costs. Very few South Africans seek treatment for their mental disorders, and yet mental illness can be treated.

Mental health problems are a result of many factors such as biological, psychological, social and environmental factors. There is increasing evidence that both the content and context of work can play a role in the development of mental health problems in the workplace.

Key factors include:

  • Workload (both excessive and insufficient work)
  • Lack of participation and control in the workplace
  • Monotonous or unpleasant tasks
  • Unclear work roles
  • Lack of recognition at work
  • Discrimination (Inequity)
  • Poor interpersonal relationships
  • Poor working conditions
  • Poor leadership and communication
  • Conflicting home and work demands.





Mental and brain disorders vary in severity. There are those that are:

  • Temporary (like an acute stress disorder)
  • Periodic (like bipolar disorder, characterised by periods of exaggerated elation followed by periods of depression)
  • Long-lasting and progressive (like Alzheimer’s disease)


Source: https://www.gov.za/


Mental illness can be treated and prevented. If you suspect you may have a mental illness, visit your nearest doctor.

For more information on SAMWUMED’s Mental Health Programme, click here