Mental Health


Mental health remains unintegrated and misunderstood across the healthcare sector. South Africans feel let down by the system, which adds to the apathy and fear of seeking treatment.

Many people feel as if they’re running on empty at work by this time of year, but according to a leadership expert, now is a good time to think about implementing practices that will ensure we maintain energy after the holiday break and can perform at our best in the new year.

The once-clear boundaries between personal and professional lives have often become increasingly blurred. Change in work dynamics, facilitated by the rise of remote working, hybrid office structures, and post-pandemic changes, have drastically altered how we navigate both our work and personal spaces.

Like their global counterparts, South African youth report high levels of mental health challenges arising from universal experiences such as the climate crisis, economic uncertainty, geopolitical instability and social media threats and pressures. Yet, there are also unique challenges affecting young people that are particularly rooted in South Africa’s socio-economic landscape.

In today’s fast-paced and often disrupted work environment, mental health and overall wellness can’t be avoided. It demands attention from employers and employees alike. Essentially, taking care of your own and your team members’ well-being means trying to help them stay in a toward state and switched on where they can function at their best (i.e., avoiding triggering the fight/flight/freeze response that put people in an away state and switch them off). 

Despite the increased awareness, burnout is getting worse, as in tough economic times, greater outputs are needed from employees. Mental health in the workplace is becoming a focus for progressive organisations that value their employees as people, not costs on a balance sheet. 

South Africans are largely considered to be resilient – we’ve weathered a pandemic, political instability, rampant unemployment, water issues and load shedding.

With endemic poverty, high unemployment, high crime rates and the prevalence of gender-based violence, South Africans have long been a chronically stressed nation.  Over the past few years, the global pandemic, economic downturn, climate crisis and geopolitical wars have only served to highlight the need to properly recognise the impact of poor, and worsening mental health on the country.

Over 30% of adult South Africans suffer from mental health issue, affecting their ability to think and process their thoughts logically. This affects their outward behaviours and decision making in the workplace. Mariet Visser, coach, trainer, co-founder of We Do Change - shares her knowledge supporting anyone suffering from mental health issues.

With sustained high levels of stress and trauma experienced across the world over the past few years, mental health and well-being is in the global spotlight. Struggling to cope with adversities is nothing new for South Africans. 

After two years of Covid-19 lockdown, as employees shift from remote working back to office work, the challenge for business now is not only adapting to changes in technology and new modes of working, but to guard against a second pandemic of mental illness.

October 2021 is Mental Health Awareness Month, and according to the SA Society of Psychiatrists, “Mental health is the biggest threat in 2021.” When the global pandemic Covid-19 hit, it brought along the physical illness, coupled with increased mental health problems which naturally spilled over to the workplace.

What are the risks involved in telling your employer about your mental illness? Many mental health sufferers are torn between hiding their condition and facing possible stigmatisation. Here are some factors to consider before making this important decision.




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