Health Mental Health

Untreated depression bad for business

Written by Ayanda Mkhwanazi

From absenteeism to “presenteeism,” depression could be costing South African business more than it thinks, according to a study released today.

On average, people with depression took 18 days off work due to their depression, according to the Hexor study

On average, people with depression took 18 days off work due to their depression, according to the Hexor study

As part of the study, about 1060 participations nationwide were surveyed about whether or not depression had affected their working life. According to the study by international research company Hexor, about 24 percent of those surveyed reported having been diagnosed with depression.

On average, people who reported being depressed took about 18 days off work due to the mental illness in the previous year.

About half of those who reported depressed also reported “presenteeism,” or finding it hard to concentrate when they were at work. This meant that tasks took longer to complete and employees reported being more likely to make mistakes while battling depression.

The study attributed the high absenteeism rate to stigma saying workers are reluctant to disclose their depression to their managers.

The World Health Organisation predicts that depression will become the leading cause of disability worldwide by 2030.

Hexor Researcher Dr Tienie Stander said that in total 74 percent of those reporting depression experienced trouble concentrating, making decisions and remembering tasks.

“This will most likely impact on the individual’s productivity,” he told Health-e News. “People will not perform as well as they should be”.

Clinical Psychologist Dr Frans Korb adds that impaired intellectual ability, or cognitive dysfunction, can accompany depression.

“Cognitive dysfunction can lead to inability to concentrate, difficulties with memory and slowness in planning and responding,” Korb said.

But the research also found that managers were among were more likely than other employees to offer help by encouraging staff battling depression to seek help.

“Depression should be managed as a whole not just at work,” Stander added. “Awareness is another important factor that people should be mindful of.” – Health-e News


An edited version of this story first appeared on the 4 February edition of The Pretoria News 

About the author

Ayanda Mkhwanazi

Ayanda Mkhwanazi is a senior journalist with Health-e News.

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