October is Mental Health Awareness Month in South Africa. Why? Because approximately 1 in 5 people will, or do, live with a non-visible ‘mental’ (ie relating to the mind) condition such as depression, anxiety, and stress related ‘impairments’ which have a potentially ‘disabling’ impact on their ability to navigate life’s journey.
The purpose of raising awareness about Mental Health is to both:
- educate people about mental health in order to help people recognise its impact and how it can be managed ie. To recognise and minimise the ‘disabling’ factor, whether these come from the condition itself or the way we have structured our lives
- and to reduce the stigma and discrimination of people with mental health issues which is often one of the most ‘disabling’ factors.
Many people don’t admit to needing help, and don’t seek support as a consequence, because of the ‘shame’ factor which these stigmas have imposed, or because they may not recognise their experiences as being a disability (with ‘disability’ stereotypically relating to visible, physical or sensory ‘impairments’).
And yet, with 2020 exposing us all to extraordinary levels of stress and anxiety thanks to the Covid Pandemic, a shaky economy, retrenchments, unemployment, and a potentially disconnected virtual world, the conversation of Mental Health has become critically important to employers.
Employers need to maintain motivation, productivity and performance levels amongst employees within an unfamiliar context, and facilitate a culture which supports flexibility and innovation in order to survive. Employers need to know how to create a space where employees feels safe to disclose a ‘mental health’ related disability, and they need to know how to provide that employee with the supportive structures that may be needed to accommodate that individual’s needs in a manner which enhances their performance and value. Employers and employees also need to know how to recognise mental health issues which, if not addressed, could result in longer term disabling consequences.
Now, more than ever, the conversations of disability inclusion has a critical role to play in sustaining a productive, innovative and committed workforce. Stress and anxiety are one of the leading causes of disability in our current world – and given the high levels of social isolation, fragmented teams, fear of uncertainty, and personal life stresses that the Covid Pandemic has introduced, this puts our employees at risk.
In support of our clients, and the fabulous people we have met on our journey, Bradshaw LeRoux would like to offer a free, team-based Mental Health Survey which is presented as a ‘check in’ with your teams. It’s not too intensive, supports anonymity, and serves to stimulate awareness amongst your employees through the Virtual Feedback Session which is provided by Lesa Bradshaw, our Disability Inclusion Specialist.
This is also a great way to lead up to International Disability Day on 3rd December. Start the conversation in a positive, impactful and ‘safe’ way. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more (terms and conditions apply)