BusinessDay

Prioritising HIV, mental health in workplace solutions advocated by experts

Experts have suggested that prioritising Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and mental health in the workplace is obtainable for employers as a way of dealing with the rising burden of cases in Nigeria.

They suggest Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) as an intervention in delivering emotional wellness service to employers incorporate organisation.

Nigeria population is estimated at over 200 million people. According to Nigeria’s HIV/AIDs indicator and impact survey (NAIIS) reports published in March 2019, about 1.9 million of the country’s population now live with HIV. The statistics mean Nigeria has dropped to the fourth position on the global HIV prevalence ranking.

“HIV/AIDS is a very dangerous situation, but we have been able to control the level today, but we need to sustain that advantage,” said Musa Shaibu, chairman executive committee, Nigerian Business Coalition Against AIDS (NiBUCAA) at annual NiBUCAA roundtable meeting in partnership with Medbury Medical Service held recently in Lagos.

According to Shaibu, this round table meeting is a platform for stakeholders and health experts to take actionable steps towards achieving good health and wellbeing, especially as regard the workplace and their host communities.

“This year’s theme which is prioritising HIV, mental health in the workplace is geared towards psychosocial support and the importance Employee Assistance Programme as regards employees with these health issues and what is obtainable for employers in the workplace as regard HIV and AIDs,” he said.

Read also: US government to support treatment of additional 60,000 people living with HIV in Lagos

Mental health is an area that is not frequently discussed and people are shy of discussing it, people run away from it and we know that for productivity we must target the workplace, Shaibu further said.

However, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health is a state of wellbeing in which the individual realises his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to his or her community.

“With organisations aim at getting 100 percent efficiency from their employers, they as well as the employees often lose sight of their mental health,” said Peter Ogunnubi, consultant psychiatrist and team lead EAP Services, Medbury Medical Service.

Ogunnubi said the most important thing for the development of mental illness in the workplace was the prevailing unstable socio-economic milieu, making it imperative for any organisation who wants be on top its game to either prepare to swim or get drowned.

“The consequential effects are, therefore, the tendency for both the organisation and the employee stretch themselves beyond their elasticity limits thus leading to stress, a precursor to mental illness,” he said.

According to empirical observation at outpatient clinics, quite a number of employees from various organisations are being managed for stress-related and major physiological problems.

He, therefore, said that their organisations and colleagues that are still unaware of the risks of breakdown or signs and symptoms of such challenges because psychological wellbeing is often neglected in health plans and health talks organised for employees.

“Through employee assistance programme it will make employees be more engaged and productive,” said Ogunnubi.

The expert advises that preventing mental health service such as counselling, psychological training session, and regular screening, therefore, should be made an integrate art if routine human resources services for employees to prevent these mental health issues.

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