ZIMBABWEAN companies are losing over $100 million per annum in wages and productivity through mental health or stress-related absence from work, a new report has shown.
In a report, Distress and Other Mental Health Problems in the Zimbabwean Working Population, Industrial Psychological Consultants (IPC) said its survey was designed to find out the prevalence of distress and other mental health problems in the Zimbabwean workforce.
Some 707 employees responded to the survey.
The survey showed that 4 in 10 working Zimbabweans experience symptoms of distress representing over 43%.
The symptoms include difficulty in thinking clearly, feeling down and depressed, disturbed sleep, easily irritated, lack of energy, tense, easily becoming emotional, and no longer have interest in people and things. Other symptoms include feeling like you can’t do anything anymore and can’t face it anymore.
IPC said 27,3% of the working population was experiencing depression symptoms, namely feeling that things were meaningless, and they can’t see a way of escaping from their situation. The survey said those suffering from depression were feeling life as not worthwhile and better off if they were dead.
The results showed that 18,3% of the working population experience anxiety symptoms such as vague feelings of fear, “trembling when with others, panic attacks, feeling frightened and fear of going out of the house alone”.
“Based on these results our estimate is that companies are losing over $107,520,000 per year in wages and productivity through mental health or stress related absence from work,” IPC said.
It said the estimates were arrived at using current employment figures and a median wage of $560.
“This excludes cost of treating mental health related illness in the same employees. If all employees with mental health problems were seeking treatment the cost will be double what companies are losing.”
IPC said due to stigma a number of employees do not seek treatment for mental health instead they preferred traditional treatment methods. It said employers were focusing on physical health alone adding that they should also focus on mental health as problems correlate positively to accident frequency and productivity.