Dealing with mental stress at the workplace

Mable Twegumye Zake's #BitsOfMe&You

Bits of me

The sounds of the rebel helicopter enveloped the skies but with lights out in the deep sinister night.

Two passengers aboard; a man and a hysterical woman.

Who in their right mind decides to fly a helicopter with it's lights out?

My questioning eyes pierced through those of my interviewee who in a second blurted out, "…and the pilot had been injured…he requested us to watch out for him just in case he got drowsy…none of us knew how to fly a helicopter…"

For a moment I paused! Thinking: "this guy must have rehearsed this narrative to himself so many times that repeating it to me like a movie now comes as second nature."

He dramatically adds, "…to make it worse, when the pilot felt he couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore, he placed the helicopter in autopilot..."

It wasn’t after a few minutes when the helicopter went down crashing!

These are titbits from an interview I conducted with a war journalist, Bart Kakooza (look out for the full interview on NBS TV's People and Power).

The tales of Kakooza's escapades at a time in the war zones with the then DR-Congo ex-war lord Jean Pierre Bemba provoked my piece on how the experiences we may encounter, traumatise our professional behaviour or other life circles.

Kakooza despite witnessing heart stopping moments was never tied mentally. He could be an exception.

I can bet a good share of other passengers on board have for years been bedevilled by what they experienced.

A good number of us are brought to our knees by past/present experiences.

Bits Of YOU

What's the most severe you've ever received and has over time translated into a mental blow?

I asked Rhoda Mutiso a psychologist at International Centre for Mental Health and Family Care and her response was "employees with suicidal tendencies."

Is the state of your well being able to cope with the normal stresses and demands of life to work? Mutiso said, majority of workers are battling depression though not aware since they don’t know the signs.

"At the center, we receive especially when displaying insomnia and cognitive impairment like poor concentration span, forgetfulness and overwhelming negative emotions," she revealed.

Others are referrals from doctors after presenting with somatoform disorders.

Somatoform disorders are a set of psychological conditions where a person experiences bodily symptoms that cannot be accounted for by a medical or neurological diagnosis.

Mutiso said research has shown that 1 in every 7 employees is going through depression and 95% of most ailments is either caused by, or worsened by stress.

Could you be in the statistics and not be aware?

Mutiso says it is evidently witnessed through reduced productivity at the work place, quality of work is compromised, absenteeism and increased interpersonal friction which affects team work.

Bosses aren’t immune and Mutiso noted its common to "displace" their stresses onto juniors.

There is therefore a critical need for employers to ensure insurance medical cover for employees constitute counselling therapy services and create the same awareness to their employees.

Adaptations of mental wellness talks at the work places highlights the importance of mental wellness as well as minimising the stigma associated with counselling services.

Signs that employees are experiencing ill mental health at the work place

  • Low Energy/Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Hyper acidity / Acid reflux
  • Irritability
  • Intestinal problems, such as constipation, bloating or diarrhoea
  • Weight gain
  • Increased blood pressure and heart problems
  • Low libido, erectile dysfunction or problems with regular ovulation or menstrual periods
  • Difficulty recovering from sickness
  • Poor sleep/Insomnia
  • Aches and pains

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