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The High Cost of Workplace Trauma

Updated: May 5

If you've ever experienced toxicity at work, you know firsthand the toll it can take on your mental and emotional well-being. We take a brief look at the impact the darker side of the workplace has working professionals in South Africa.

As more and more people struggle with mental health issues, it's becoming increasingly clear that the modern workplace is a major contributor to this crisis. What is it in the workplace creating this mental health crisis? Workplace trauma and the detrimental effects of stress, burnout, and mental health disorders on professionals. It's a topic that has become all too familiar in the modern world, and the consequences can be severe.

Statistics from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) reveal that stress, anxiety, and depression in the workplace are alarmingly high in South Africa. In fact, according to SADAG, work-related stress and burnout account for 40% of workplace absenteeism, with stress being the leading cause of absenteeism in the country.

Furthermore, approximately 25% of South African employees have been diagnosed with depression, and 10% of workers have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The effects of workplace trauma in South Africa are severe and far-reaching. The high levels of stress and burnout can lead to decreased job satisfaction, increased absenteeism, and high staff turnover. Moreover, individuals can experience physical health problems, such as headaches, insomnia, and even heart problems. The financial impact can be significant, including lost wages, medical bills, and decreased productivity. The high prevalence of mental health disorders can lead to increased healthcare costs and decreased quality of life.

While employee wellness programs may provide some benefits, they may not do enough to prevent workplace toxicity. These programs can include counseling, stress management training, and mindfulness meditation. However, the majority of the responsibility for caring for one's mental health may fall on the employee. Additionally, in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, where employee wellness programs are more common, work-related stress is still a prevalent issue. In the US, 83% of workers suffer from work-related stress, with 30% of workers reporting feeling overwhelmed by it. In the UK, work-related stress, depression, or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health.

Coping mechanisms can be beneficial, including mindfulness meditation, exercise, and therapy, although not all individuals have access to these resources. Employers should prioritize the mental and emotional health of their employees, creating a safe and supportive environment that promotes open communication and mutual respect.

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Workplace trauma and toxicity are issues that cannot be ignored. The consequences of these issues can be severe, affecting individuals mentally, emotionally, and financially. It's crucial to recognize and address these issues seriously, taking steps to prevent and manage them to ensure the well-being of all professionals in the workforce, particularly in South Africa where the prevalence of these issues is particularly high. While employee wellness programs may be helpful, they may not be enough to prevent workplace toxicity. It's important for both employers and employees to take responsibility for addressing these issues and promoting a healthy work environment.

Has has workplace trauma, hostility and toxicity affected you, and how?