A-OSH Expo showcases holistic treatment of employees’ health issues
A-OSH Expo 2018 is but two weeks away and visitors will have much to look forward to from the best in the local occupational health and safety sphere. Employee wellness will be a key focus of the Expo this year.
Shocking statistics released in late 2017 showed that depression cost South African business more than R232 billion during 2016 – either due to absence from work or attending work while unwell (the latter being a phenomenon sometimes called “presenteeism” as opposed to absenteeism).
A statement released by the chairperson of the Psychiatry Management Group (PsychMG), Dr Sebolelo Seape, in 2017 noted that more than 9,7 percent of the South African population (4,5-million people) was suffering from depression.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) has also previously released statistics suggesting that up to a quarter of the South African workforce will suffer from mental health illnesses at some point in their career. Surveying more than 1 000 employees, Sadag found that depressed workers took on average 18 days of sick leave annually, because of their condition.
Holistic wellness programmes therefore have an important role to play in the workplace, and employers play a significant role in offering such programmes.
“The numbers are frightening,” says Sven Smit, event director at Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery.
“Optimising mental health at work is part of the suite of holistic wellness programmes offered by one of our sponsors, Health|Insite, which will again be managing the Occu|Fit Wellness Zone feature area at this year’s A-OSH Expo,” he mentions.
Health|Insite provides holistic wellness services to over 550 employer groups, impacting on more than one million lives on a monthly basis.
Dr Jedd Myers, COO for the Health|Insite Group of Companies, says: “Mental health comprises an important part of a healthy and productive employee. The old notion of an isolated ‘tears, tissues approach’, which formed part of an outdated employee assistance programme model, is no longer relevant in today’s work context and culture.
Health|Insite’s physical health and wellness platform e|Care, which forms part of a broader integrated employee wellness programme, focuses on a holistic proactive approach to employee health and wellness. The platform pushes out personalised, risk-matched and interest-matched information from credible sources to each individual employee, allowing them to take control and manage their own health and wellness journey.”
According to psychiatrist Frans Korb, a Sadag board member, the negative effect of depression on the workplace is “higher than any other chronic mental and physical disorder”. Korb notes that depression presenteeism had a five-times greater counteractive effect than being absent from work, and that depression affects cognitive functioning such as decision-making, memory and problem-solving.
Writing on a Sadag blog, Dr Ali Hamdulay notes the potential effectiveness of proactively addressing the mental and emotional health of employees when companies establish specific programmes to manage depression, bipolar disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse among employees.
“The valuable impact of wellness programmes in the workplace cannot be underestimated. Programmes promoting exercise, counselling or financial management can help prevent illnesses, including mental stress, and reduce the impact of long-term conditions. The end result is a positive impact on people’s lives in a holistic fashion, which, ultimately, will include productivity and benefit the caring employer that chose to implement the wellness programme in the first place. It is a win-win for all,” concludes Smit.
Click here to pre-register for free entry into A-OSH Expo 2018!