Mental Health Chatroom

July 28, 2022

Workplace mental health: Need for work-life balance for sustainable national development

mental health

WELCOME to this week’s “Mental Health Chat Room”, this is a chat room where we discuss the basics of our mental health in order to understand and have a full grasp of the rudiments of mental health and optimum mental well-being.

This is an essential component of our mental health advocacy activities aimed at promoting our wholesome wellness, prevent mental illness, improve our awareness of mental disorders, understand that effective, qualitative and modern (technology based) mental health care services are available in Nigeria and Globally.

This will enhance our collective quality life, harmonious interpersonal relationships and peaceful coexistence within our communities.

A recap of our last conversation where we discussed “Drug Addiction: A Treatable Mental Disorder”.

We described “the road to hell” in drug addiction as a pattern of substance use behaviour characterised by insidious and progressive graduation of the use of substance from experimentation to recreational use, graduating to casual (situational) use; to habitual (more intense) use and finally to addiction.

This journey typically starts in adolescence and becomes well established in young adult life. The complex interaction between the individual brain circuitry, genetic predisposition, early life experience, the environment and the drug leads to drug addiction.

A central descriptive characteristic of drug addiction is the desire that is quite strong and most times over powering (compulsive urge) to use the drug. Denial of drug addiction, stigma and trivializing the condition are strong determinants of appropriate health-seeking behaviour and they constitute a major barrier to quality and effective treatment of drug addiction.

There is need for community engagement, drug addiction awareness campaign and advocacy on preventive strategies for drug addiction (and related disorders) and mental health promotion, mental illness prevention and treatment strategies in general.

Today, our topic for discussion is “Work place mental health: need for work life balance for sustainable national development”.

Our collective and sustainable development is linked to our productivity, therefore when we discuss sustainable development; we are inadvertently discussing productivity and our work-life balance which has profound effect on our mental wellness and consequently our National sustainable development (it’s all about workplace mental health)!

Once again, I will be using the story of Mr. Ade to illustrate how unhealthy work-life balance can lead to mental disorders and poor productivity. Please, read on:

Mr. Ade is a 42 years old promising civil servant and Accountancy graduate. He worked in one of the federal ministries in Lagos for the first five years of his civil service career.

He is married with three children. His wife is a housewife and all three children are in school. While in Lagos, his office was at Ikeja, about 15 minutes drive from the two-bedroom apartment where he lived with his family.
Six years ago, he was transferred to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. He spent his first two years alone in Abuja, shuttling to Lagos twice a month. After 12 months he couldn’t cope with the travels due to financial reasons and so he reduced visiting his family to once a month.

Clearly, the discomfort and poor job satisfaction was creeping into his life. After two years he decided, “enough is enough” and moved his family to Abuja after securing a one room apartment in the outskirts of Abuja. The accommodation was considered substandard, lacked good water, had poor roads, woeful sanitation and very exorbitant rent. All the same he squeezed into the place with his family. His wife complained about the quality of education of the children but he was helpless.

Within four years of being transferred to Abuja, Mr. Ade had failed promotion examination twice; he had received query letters from his supervisor twice and was at the verge of facing a disciplinary panel for absenteeism, irritability, aggressive behaviour and insubordination!

Mr. Ade’s world was crumbling. The wife complained that he was not sleeping at night, rather he would be pacing all over the compound and she feels embarrassed because other people in the compound have started noticing his restlessness and agitation.

He was irritable and no longer tolerating the children, this is a complete departure from Mr. Ade that she married some years earlier. On one of his visits to the hospital for incessant bodily complaints, the doctor referred Ade to a mental health specialist. He reluctantly complied after a lot of pressure from his wife. After thorough examination and investigations, he received treatment for anxiety disorder and felt a lot better after four weeks of treatment.

He was referred to the mental health social services, the social workers were quite supportive; they explored the work place conditions and stressors, they arranged meetings with his supervisor and colleagues at work. Milieu therapy was recommended as part of his care package. Mr. Ade has since recovered physically, mentally and his productivity has bounced back.

A workplace is a location where people perform tasks, jobs and projects for their employer. A healthy work environment characterised by trust, honesty and fairness and all people in the workplace are held accountable for their actions.

People at work show sincere respect for others’ ideas, values and beliefs. Difficult situations at work are addressed effectively and staff feels that they are part of a community at work. The atmosphere of a workspace often influences an employee’s mindset and growth. Employees working in a positive work environment may feel more motivated to produce high-quality work consistently. Thus, “Positive” work environments are as those workplaces where there is trust, cooperation, safety, risk-taking support, accountability, and equity. A place where you want to strive for shared purpose, values, and trust.

The importance of work in enhancing the economic and social integration of people cannot be over emphasised; all of us have the right to decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. A healthy workplace is one where employees thrive in their work projects and feel fulfilled while also staying physically and mentally healthy.

They are productive and feel supported, which leads to reduced absenteeism, illness, conflict, and ultimately better turnover. Signs of a healthy work environment include flexibility, ability to focus, job satisfaction and sense of commitment.

Job satisfaction and organisational commitment are two key attitudes that are the most relevant to important outcomes, thus it is a cycle; we create a healthy workplace and staff, in return we manifest job satisfation and organisational commitment.

Note: If you have comments, questions and contributions, please reach out to us on: +2348037004611 or email us at [email protected].

Readers’ comments

I struggle to socialise in public Dear Prof, I usually struggle to act or react in a way considered socially acceptable, such as not getting annoyed, or angry.

Overcoming fear and anxiety when dealing with new people is also a challenge. What is the way out for me? Please help. Sam, Ogun State Prof says,You can overcome these challenges if you try. Participate in social activities such as church, hobby groups, or exercise groups, and similar community groups.
Join groups that interest you. Feel free with people and try to make new friends, and people will begin to get comfortable with ‘re no longer a stranger. Advertise yourself.

Anxiety about work Dear Prof, Due to a policy change at my workplace, I’ve been on reduced work hours.

As a result, I’ve found it very hard to motivate myself to work at home and be productive.
Is this symptomatic of an illness, or is it associated with feelings of loss and doubt over my future, and therefore normal?

Kindly assist.
Onome Gideon, Uyo

Prof says,
To manage work anxiety, begin by building your personal wellness plan. Get adequate sleep, eat healthy, and exercise well, among others.

Unknown hurdle symptoms

Dear Prof,
I think I am suffering from unknown hurdles symptoms.
My biggest challenge? When I wake up, not knowing what the day will be like. How will my mood be? How will I handle daily stressors and triggers?

Prof says,
To combat this I limit the number of commitments I make each day. This allows for unforeseen disturbances in the day and time for self-care.
Kunle, Abuja

Help, my son is a drug addict
Dear Prof,
I called to discuss with you after reading your piece in mental health chart room programme. How best can I reach you? I have a problem related the subject matter.
My son is a drug addict and this is of great concern to me. Kindly assist.

Gabriel Adeniyi, Lagos
Prof says,
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for drug addiction. Treatments may vary based on the specific needs of your son, and the treatment that works best is the one that is based on the substance that your son is abusing.
The level of care that he needs, his personal mental health needs, among others. Go to the hospital for more counsel.