By Steve Abeka
In Kenya, work-related factors can significantly impact employee mental health outcomes. Work-related factors refer to the conditions, circumstances, or experiences that employees encounter in their work environment that have an impact on their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.
These factors can include job insecurity, work-related stress, workplace violence, and workplace bullying, among others.
Research has shown that work-related factors can contribute to poor mental health outcomes among Kenyan employees.
For example, a study by the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health found that job insecurity and poor work conditions were significant predictors of poor mental health outcomes among healthcare workers in Kenya (Mwaniki et al., 2020).
Another study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that work-related stress was a significant predictor of poor mental health outcomes among Kenyan police officers (Mutavi et al., 2021).
Additionally, a study by the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that workplace bullying was a significant predictor of poor mental health outcomes among Kenyan employees, particularly among those in low-status jobs (Nyangara et al., 2018).
These studies demonstrate the need for employers to prioritize employee mental health and well-being in the workplace. Failure to do so can result in negative outcomes for both employees and organizations. Below are examples of cases where work-related factors have contributed to poor mental health outcomes among Kenyan employees:
In 2018 there was a case of a banker, who was working for a leading bank in Kenya who took his own life due to work-related stress and pressure.
According to a report by the Daily Nation, he was under intense pressure to meet his targets and was working long hours.
He was also said to be struggling with personal issues, including a difficult divorce. This led to burnout, depression and ultimately, his tragic death.
This case highlights the impact that work-related stress and pressure can have on employee mental health and the need for employers to prioritize mental health in the workplace.
In another case, a healthcare worker was attacked by a patient’s relative, resulting in the healthcare worker developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and having to take time off work.
PTSD is a serious mental health condition that can result from exposure to a traumatic event, such as a physical assault.
Symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance behaviors, and hyperarousal. Healthcare workers are at risk of workplace violence, particularly in settings where they are dealing with patients who may be under stress or in crisis. This incident highlights the impact that workplace violence can have on employee mental health outcomes.
Finally, another incident occurred in 2017 where a teacher in Kisumu was beaten by parents after a student committed suicide due to exam pressure.
The teacher was blamed for the student’s death, which led to physical and mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
This case highlights the importance of addressing work-related stress and pressure in the education sector.
Creating a supportive and healthy work environment is essential for promoting better mental health among employees.
To promote better mental health, employers can take several steps, including but not limited to the following:
Employers can promote mental health awareness and reduce stigma by providing resources such as employee assistance programs (EAPs), mental health counseling services, and training on mental health topics. Employers can also create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns without fear of judgment or reprisal.
Offering stable, long-term employment opportunities: Job insecurity is a significant source of work-related stress, and employers can help alleviate this stress by providing stable, long-term employment opportunities. This can include offering benefits such as healthcare and retirement plans, as well as opportunities for career development and advancement.
Reducing work-related stress through workplace wellness programs: Employers can implement wellness programs that promote physical and mental health, such as exercise programs, meditation and mindfulness programs, and stress reduction workshops. These programs can help employees manage their stress and promote better mental health outcomes.
Addressing workplace violence and harassment by implementing clear policies and procedures: Employers can address workplace violence and harassment by creating clear policies and procedures for reporting and addressing these issues.
This can include providing training to employees on how to recognize and prevent workplace violence, conducting regular risk assessments, and offering counseling and mental health resources to employees who have experienced traumatic incidents.
In conclusion, work-related factors can significantly impact employee mental health. Addressing these factors requires a multi-faceted approach that includes creating a supportive and healthy work environment, providing access to mental health resources, and addressing workplace violence and stress.
Employers who prioritize employee mental health and well-being can create a more productive and positive work environment for their employees, benefiting both the individuals and the organization.
PS: Steve Abeka is the Channel Partner & Manager at CM.com, who are our members at Nairobi Garage// Kilimani. CM.com provides cloud software for conversational commerce. The company's services include SMS tools, app development, push notifications, and a hybrid messaging product. The company was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Breda, Netherlands.