Depressed workers cost $100m

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HARARE — A large proportion of Zimbabwe’s workforce is depressed and losing hope for a better future as economic hardships bite, with companies losing out as much as $100 million yearly in productivity losses, an industrial psychology survey has revealed.

Zimbabwe’s economy is characterised by high unemployment, while the majority of workers earn salaries below the poverty datum line, estimated at around $500 per month.

The survey, titled, “Distress and other mental health problems in the Zimbabwean working population,” by Industrial Psychological Consultants (IPC) sought to establish the state of well-being of individuals – ability to recognise their abilities, cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and make a contribution to their communities in line with World Health Organisation guidelines.

IPC established that nearly 30% of the working population, from the surveyed 707 employees across all economic sectors, was depressed while 43% was distressed.

“At least 27,3% of the working population is experiencing depression symptoms, namely feeling that things are meaningless and they can’t see a way of escaping from their situation, life is not worthwhile, they would be better if they were dead, they cannot enjoy anything anymore, wishing they were dead,” IPC said.

The survey revealed that about 18% of the workforce battled anxiety symptoms for a variety of work-related reasons.

“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 (estimates arrived at using current employment figures and a median wage of $560),” IPC said.

“If all employees with mental health problems were seeking treatment the cost will be double what companies are losing.

“Due to stigma, a lot of employees do not seek treatment for mental health instead they prefer traditional treatment methods.”

The firm encouraged employers to not only focus on physical health of employees, but also on mental health, while calling on the government to publicise and implement its mental health policy. — The Source

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