Impact Of Economic Downturn On Mental Health

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Much emphasis has been placed on the financial impact of the economic downturn and the resulting job losses; however, Deputy General Secretary of the Barbados Workers??? Union (BWU), Toni Moore, says that, while that aspect cannot be ignored, the impact on health should not be forgotten.

Speaking this morning at the Productivity Council???s Week of Excellence seminar, which was held at BWU Headquarters, Ms. Moore observed that ???there has been little attention given to the fallout of crises such as this one, [and the impact] on human health???the current economic downturn has serious human costs [such as] suicide and depression.???

Lamenting the lack of research to highlight the impact of mental health in the workplace in the Caribbean, Ms. Moore explained studies from the UK indicated that ???mental health problems cost employers about 30 billion pounds a year… I???m sure if we had statistics for Barbados and the region, it may not be in that amount but per person, [but] the impact would be similar.???

Quoting Chair of the Acas Council (UK), Ed Sweeney, Ms. Moore said that he pointed out that stress was now the most common of long term sicknesses. She said Mr. Sweeney stressed that when jobs were under threat, pay packets were being frozen and workloads were increasing, ???employees??? mental health is always likely to be affected???.

???Mr. Sweeney reported that over the last 10 years, they had noticed the increasing impact of mental ill health in the workplace. Stress, anxiety and depression, albeit not all work related, have led to higher rates of absenteeism and lost productivity due to presenteeism, which is being at work when you are unwell; a situation that many feel forced into [because they fear for their jobs],??? the Deputy General Secretary said.

Today???s seminar, one in a series, featured presentations from Dr. Sharon Harvey, who discussed The Impact of An Economic Crisis on the Mental Health of the Workforce and Lennox Prescod, who examined The Relationship Between Workplace Illness and Productivity.

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