Employers urged to play role in reducing mental health challenges amid COVID-19

According to the findings of a study, 28% of employees were experiencing constant high levels of psychological and physical distress. Women and those working remotely showed higher risks for experiencing physical stress-related symptoms.

Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - Researchers said that employers had a critical role to play in reducing the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers presented their findings at a briefing on Thursday hosted by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag).

According to the findings, 28% of employees were experiencing constant high levels of psychological and physical distress. Women and those working remotely showed higher risks for experiencing physical stress-related symptoms.

Afriforte and the Workwell Research Unit developed a tool to assess the COVID-19 experiences of 1,656 employees over one month. The research found that half of them were experiencing high levels of concern about the future.

And as more workers across the country face pay cuts, retrenchments, and company closures, mental health is a key concern.

Afriforte managing director Professor Ina Rothmann said that the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with an anxiety condition called pre-traumatic stress syndrome.

The study found that 46% of employees were at high risk of experiencing this syndrome.

Rothmann said that promoting hope was a key mitigating factor in developing pre-traumatic stress syndrome.

“Employers are best positioned to proactively mitigate the mental health impact of the COVID-19 disruption,” Rothmann said.

Seventy-seven percent of the sample were experiencing decent hope levels while only 4% of employees indicated despair about the future.

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