Point of view: SA workers face serious mental health crisis – Life Health Solutions

The data revealed that these risks encompass a spectrum of issues impacting on employees’ mental and physical well-being. Picture: Pixabay

The data revealed that these risks encompass a spectrum of issues impacting on employees’ mental and physical well-being. Picture: Pixabay

Published Jul 6, 2024


There is a trend of increasing mental health risks in the South African corporate workplace, according to new data by Life Health Solutions.

The Life Health Solutions research, which analysed data from 2018 to 2023, revealed that it found a significant rise in the prevalence of mental health risk cases – individuals identified as posing a safety risk to themselves, others or their organisation.

“These risks included a range of factors, such as suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, and financial instability,” it said.

Life Health Solutions psychologist Safia Joseph said: “These findings underscore the critical need for proactive mental health support within the South African corporate workplace. Employers have a responsibility to foster a culture of well-being and provide resources that empower employees to navigate personal and professional challenges.”

The data revealed that these risks encompass a spectrum of issues, including suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, and financial instability, which not only impact the individuals involved but also pose safety risks to their colleagues and the organisation as a whole.

“Ineffective communication within teams or between management and employees can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and feelings of distrust. It can also hinder problem-solving and collaboration efforts,” the data showed.

The data showed that the lack of opportunities for career growth, advancement or recognition for achievements can lead to feelings of stagnation and demotivation. Employees may feel undervalued or unappreciated, affecting their morale.

Personal issues such as financial problems, relationship difficulties or health concerns can spill over into the workplace, affecting concentration, productivity, and overall well-being.

According to the data, there was a concerning overall increase in mental health risk cases across genders, with men reaching 37.12% in 2023 compared to 35.10% in 2018, and women decreasing from 64.90% in 2018 compared to 62.88% in 2023.

“While women consistently reported a higher prevalence of mental health risk cases over the five years, it does not mean that men are in any way less affected by the same risk factors.

“It’s important to consider that societal expectations and stigma surrounding men’s mental health may lead to under-reporting and a reluctance to seek help, while unique pressures faced by women in the workplace may require targeted support,” it said.

The data also showed a trend of young people experiencing mental health challenges.

“In 2023, individuals aged 30 to 39 constituted the largest group presenting with mental health risk, while a concerning 10.78% were under the age of 19,” the data showed.

The research also revealed a marked increase in dependants of employees experiencing mental health risks, highlighting the far-reaching impact of workplace stress on families.

According to the data, there were several key drivers behind the rise in risk cases.

“Suicidal risk remains the most prevalent consequence of the risk cases driven mainly by depression, stress, and relationship difficulties.

“Notably, 2023 saw a sharp increase in stress, relationship issues, bereavement, anxiety, domestic violence, and difficulties adjusting to life changes as contributing factors,” it said.