The rise of mental illness and why corporate SA needs to sit up and take note

Statistics released in May 2019 by The World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that globally, an estimated 264 million people suffered from depression, which surprisingly is one of the leading causes of disability, with many of these people also suffering from symptoms of anxiety. Think about discussions you’ve been privy to at the water cooler. Depression, anxiety and sadly even suicide is on the increase. Not only does poor employee mental health impact a person’s personal life, it also hampers productivity which results in weak profit margins.

Even though recent buzzwords in the consumer and wellness space include mindfulness, meditation and balance, employers need to tap into workplace wellness now more than ever before.

Corporate Wellness Week concluded last month, which had me thinking back to my own experiences having been a part of the working world before I took on entrepreneurial interests. I recall a time when anxiety started becoming a buzzword amongst many disgruntled employees. A fast-paced lifestyle which includes beating the morning rush traffic to get to work on time to, working through the day non-stop to meet stringent targets thus, missing meals and forgetting to take breaks to an increased consumption of alcohol and in some cases, even hard drugs have now led us to a place where the working world is finally sitting up to take notice of their healthcare needs.

Holistic living, which is another buzzword, doesn’t necessarily mean that you eat more greens and drink more water than you were previously. Holistic living involves making mindful decisions when it comes to a person’s diet, fitness choices and even to ensuring that your mental health prospers even as your body does. So, when embarking on a new outlook on life, it is key that you factor in these key pillars into your wellness programme. A possible team building exercise to promote health and well-being could be including a weekly Pilates class for those who need a time-out from the rat race.

Adding to the May statistics, WHO believes that a healthy workplace is one in which workers and managers collaborate to contribute to a sustained wellness process in order to protect and promote the health, safety and well-being of all workers and the sustainability of the workplace. Being a qualified pharmacist by profession, I couldn’t agree more.

I have noticed during my time in practice, that leaders in the workplace, get this aspect of their business plan wrong and, yes, I absolutely believe that an employee wellness programme should be just an important of an aspect of the business plan as clearly defined targets are. Given the present fast paced age we find ourselves in, it is imperative that companies look out for the health and wellness interests of their employees – not only does this show for a progressive business outlook, it also makes the employer that much more desirable in the employment space.

When compiling an employee wellness programme, the most important considerations to factor in are:

· Ensuring that the premises you choose to operate out of is a physically safe work environment as well as

· Promotes a psycho-social work environment and good mental health among workers

To elaborate on the second point, this means keeping an eye on employees and setting up personal meetings with them to ensure that they are operating at their mental optimum. If there any mental health concerns, the employer must make it very clear to the employee that their value as a company asset doesn’t just stop at work delivery. Most suicide victims particularly in the workplace, feel unseen and unvaluable as people not, employees. having regular check-ins with them to ensure that they know that the value you place on them doesn’t just stop at employee level. The employer may choose to not get involved in an employee’s personal life or, not take an interest in them on a personal level though good reason to do otherwise stems from a report released not too long ago by The World Health Federation. In this particular study, researchers have cited that there is a “prolific lack of focus in the workplace, with the result that many employees work in a state of poor mental health.” The report also states that 10% of the employed population have taken time off for depression, that six in 10 people indicate that poor concentration impacts on their delivery at work. It ultimately revealed that mental health conditions faced by employees cost them millions of dollars every year. In addition, a considerably high amount workdays are lost per year.

It is clear to see that employees’ mental well-being should therefore not be addressed via precautionary measures such as relevant insurance policies, but an imperative, core focus area of any business. I couldn’t be happier to be part of an organisation which practices employee mental health and wellness.

One of the ways we support our employees and encourage wellness in the workplace is through educating them about the benefits of the products we retail. Young Living is certainly a company which practices what we preach. Typically associated with all things hippy-ish, the use of alternative therapies and healing methods has fast gained popularity amongst the general population – with good reason too. Chronic medication in some cases, can make you sicker than you really are – especially if you have a combined script.

While we don’t claim that essential oils can cure medical ailments or should be used medicinally in replacement of prescribed medication by a healthcare professional, it would be wise to learn more about the benefits of using essential oils and employ these as a wellness aid enhancement in your workplace.

If you do consider using essential oils as part of a corporate wellness programme, it is important to remember that not all essential oils are created equal and that you should pay attention to labels, just as you would when shopping for your meals. Young Living essentials oils are pure and directly extracted from nature for example, 75 lemons are required to make one 15 ml bottle of Lemon essential oil. This is accomplished by cold pressing the rinds of the lemons, producing an oil with the aroma of freshly picked fruit. It is one of the company’s core beliefs that natural, plant-based products bear a positive impact on the mind and body.

By massaging a drop or two of an essential oil blend into your temples or wrists may have a positive impact on the mind and emotions – lavender for example can be used to aid relaxation if you find yourself in a stressful situation. Essential oils do not have a potent sting to their scents and don’t have a distinct smell that our chemically infused perfumes and deodorant’s have. Hence, they are easy to use topically as well as may be used in a diffuser to freshen the air.

As a trained pharmacist, I can attest to the benefits of incorporating essential oils into my lifestyle. I now understand, from first-hand experience the positive effects essential oils can have on the human body. Just inhaling an essential oil via diffusion stimulates the olfactory system, this is the part of the brain connected to smell, which includes the nose and the brain. As the molecules reach the brain, they affect the limbic system, which is linked to the emotions, the heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress, and hormone balance.

Adopting the use of essential oils as an employee and also as a company may assist in reduced levels of employee mental health struggles. Essential oils like Valor and Lemon are good recommendations for an office environment for its calming and purifying benefits.

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Biography of Kemble Morgan
Country Manager, Young Living Essential Oils, South Africa
Kemble Morgan of Young Living Essential OilsKemble is a qualified and registered pharmacist with a passion for business. He has close on 18 years of Direct Selling (Network Marketing/ MLM), product marketing, sales management, strategy and executive decision-making experience throughout the African continent in various industries such as FMCG, Medical and Financial Services.

As an entrepreneur, he has managed, marketed and grew market share in all of the enterprises he has to date, been involved in.

Kemble prides his ability to learn fast and be able to grasp the core focus of any group to truly become an asset to attaining their objectives. His roles have allowed him the freedom to take businesses from startup and incubation phases to fully fledged global companies. With excellent communication, networking and well-developed interpersonal skills, he integrates well within a team and has the ability to form trusted business relationships.

His strong belief in integrity and team effort, has helped him make the right business decisions. Whilst focusing on the job, he is able to keep an eye on the horizon, growing and adapting organically to the environment that he is placed in.

Kemble is married with three sons and reside in the greater Johannesburg area in South Africa.