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Workplace wellness progammes: a vital cog in the holistic health landscape

Work wellness programmes again showcased at A-OSH EXPO 2019

JOHANNESBURG – February 25, 2019 – Most of us are aware, somewhere in the backs of our minds, that stress, one of life’s ‘silent killers’, can cause serious harm to both the human body as well as the mind. And most  of us don’t have to think too hard to name a person we know who is suffering in some way from stress or other mental problems.

Late last year (October 2018), the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) released statistics outlining that as many as one in six South Africans suffer from anxiety, depression or substance use problems. SADAG also noted that this does not include more serious mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia[1].

Additionally, Dr Eugene Allers, a leading South African psychiatrist and former President of the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP), believes that when crime and motor-vehicle accidents are taken into consideration, up to six million South Africans could suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. SADAG adds further that less than 16 percent of mental health sufferers receive treatment for mental illnesses [2].

These are extraordinary numbers, and so they beg the question: Whose responsibility is it to help those with different forms of mental illness? And how can this be done? Perhaps the answer is multi-faceted: it is surely not unreasonable to expect any government, worldwide, to assist those of very limited economic means, while for others who are fortunate to have some funds at their disposal for private healthcare, the onus could lie on the individual and/or friends and family to take control when a person is having some kind of mental crisis.

But what about the role of business – can it also play a role in helping to alleviate those in mental distress? Those involved in the annual A-OSH EXPO, Africa’s largest occupational health and safety (OHS) trade show, believe that business can certainly play a role here.

“Employers who offer wellness programmes at the work place are providing their employees with a truly fantastic service,” says Sven Smit, portfolio director at Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery, which is once again running A-OSH EXPO in 2019 for the ninth year in a row. “Employee well-being services in South Africa are able to offer targeted, on-site solutions for their employees, with a comprehensive array of solutions which can be tailored to a company’s specific needs. Not all staff members are the same, neither across industries nor within the same company, and so a one-size-fits-all approach would be ineffective.

“When an employee wellness programme can be tailored to individuals, this can help to create healthier outcomes for the organisation itself, across all levels and across different job descriptions. These employee wellness progammes offer a holistic way of looking at the individual’s health, and give them access to resources including external referrals. This includes opening doorways to assist the employee in their overall mental health and well-being needs as well as their physical needs.”

Work healthcare solutions on offer include specialist interventions aimed at the C-suite executive level; online health communications that aim to drive healthy behaviour changes through access to information, interactive tools and professional advisory services; and on-site visits and wellness days that provide face-to-face information and health screenings to help employees understand and mitigate health risks.

“We are seeing more and more calls today to assist those individuals with mental health issues, whether temporary or chronic. People are realising increasingly that mental health is part of the illness spectrum in the same way as physical ailments, and as such should not be stigmatised but assisted.

“In a time when the country’s mental health issues are being increasingly acknowledged, and yet we find that the government’s resources are currently limited, business – and its capacity to offer these wellness programmes at work – represents a vital cog in the mental health landscape as well as the physical health arena. As such, we trust that it will be increasingly embraced by employers in an effort to reach more and more citizens who otherwise may have little or no access to assistance,” concludes Smit.

The ninth annual A-OSH EXPO takes place from 14 to 16 May 2019, at Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand, and visitor entrance is free. Securex South Africa 2019, Africa’s largest show within the security and fire sectors, is co-located with A-OSH EXPO 2019, as is – for the first time – this year’s Facilities Management Expo, which brings together all aspects of products and services associated with property and building management and maintenance.

For more information please visit www.aosh.co.za, or contact Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery on +27 11 835-1565.

CONTACTS:

Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery, Keraysha Pillay, tel: +27 (0) 11 835 1565, info@aosh.co.za

icomm, Vivienne Fouché, +27 (0)82 602 1635, vivienne@pr.co.za

[1] https://www.sacap.edu.za/blog/counselling/mental-health-south-africa/

[2] https://www.sacap.edu.za/blog/counselling/mental-health-south-africa/

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