Depressed Workers In South Africa Cost Economy Over R232 Billion


It has been estimated that the cost of having depressed workers in South Africa is over R232 billion. This is according to a 2016 study of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The study reported that depressed workers in South Africa cost the country more than R232 billion, a 5.7 percent equivalent of its GDP.

As highlighted in the report, the R232 billion loss was triggered by declined productivity that comes with having depressed workers. It was specified that the decrease in productivity do thrive when workers are carrying out their functions while unwell or, aren’t around to perform their duties.

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Commenting on the findings of this study, chairperson of the Psychiatry Management Group (PsychMG), Dr Sebolelo Seape pointed out that having depressed workers affect productivity and relationship between workers and management in a negative way.

According to her, the cost of depressed South African workers who worked while they are suffering from depression has the most significant impact. It is responsible for the loss of an amount equivalent to 4.2% of South Africa’s GDP, the highest in the world.

“In South Africa, employees are very likely to keep working during periods of depression, impacting their productivity and performance at work. This can be due to fear of losing their jobs, being ostracised from colleagues, or lack of mental health knowledge – not understanding why they are going through a spell of periods of not being well.

“Even those who take a sick day here and there because they are not mentally up for (work), are in essence self-diagnosing and their perceived coping mechanism will draw negative attention. In addition, they could be losing out on the support structure offered by their employer, putting their career and relationship with colleagues at risk.”

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Having said that, Seape stressed the need for establishments to be educated on the negative impact of mental health on the workplace.

She said: “With more than 9.7 percent of the South African population, or 4.5 million to be exact, suffering from depression the chances are quite real that the person sitting next to you in the office is at some stage in their lives of coping with the condition.

“It’s not only the duty of the individuals suffering from mental health issues but also organisations and colleagues to fight the stigma associated,” Seape added.