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The sportswear retailer said workers at its headquarters in Oregon would be “powering down” for a week until Friday. Senior manager Matt Marrazzo said in a LinkedIn Post: “Take the time to unwind, destress and spend time with your loved ones. Do not work.” “In a year (or two) unlike any other, taking time for rest and recovery is key to performing well and staying sane.”

Mr Marrazzo said it was not just a week off for the team but “an acknowledgment that we can prioritize mental health and still get work done.” It follows similar moves from Bumble and LinkedIn.

Bumble, the dating app where women make the first move, gave its entire global work force a day off in June so they could focus on themselves. One senior executive revealed on Twitter that founder Whitney Wolfe Herd had made the move “having correctly intuited our collective burnout.”

LinkedIn also surprised its workers with a paid week off in April, while Citi Group said in March it would have ‘Zoom-free Fridays’ to combat pandemic fatigue. Psychologists have reported a rise in ‘pandemic burnout’ with people finding it more difficult to switch off as remote working continues. Research in February showed UK workers increased their hours by 25% a week. Mr Marrazzo said he hoped the move by Nike “will have a positive impact on the culture of work moving forward.”

NIKE Headquarters Oregon

He wrote: ”This past year has been rough – we’re all human! and living through a traumatic event! – but I’m hopeful that the empathy and grace we continue to show our teammates will have a positive impact on the culture of work moving forward. ‘Support your people. It’s good business but it’s also the right thing to do.

However In Africa and other cultures mental health still remains a Taboo topic, therefore making it extremely hard for people to open up about it. Africa still has a long way to go in terms of mental health awareness and care. Mental health is highly stigmatized and there are not enough mental health facilities or resources for the people. In Africa, the average number of therapist’s  is 0.05/100,000 population, while in Europe it is 9/100,000 population.

Here are the top five challenges to mental health in Africa.

5 Challenges to Mental Health in Africa

  1. Poverty: There is a strong correlation between different mental illnesses and the socioeconomic status of patients. According to The conversation, when people are stressed about searching for basic resources for survival like food and stable sources of income, this stress affects their mental health. Furthermore, the healthcare expenses are high, making them inaccessible to some. People with mental health problems may also have more trouble with functioning effectively which can harm their financial resources as well.
  2. War and Conflict: Various African countries endure tribal wars and terrorist groups. These wars affect the population’s mental health — especially the victims. commonwealth health reported that more than half “of refugees have mental health problems from post-traumatic stress disorder to chronic mental illness.”
  3. Insufficient Resources: Most African countries spend less than 1% of their budget on mental health. Additionally, mental health is not a popular subject; therefore, there are few higher education facilities teaching about it. The stigma around it prevents graduates from enrolling in mental health-related programs. As a result of this shortage, the Mental health innovation news states that “90% of people with mental illnesses have no access to treatment, especially in poor and in rural areas.”
  4. Lack of Awareness: Mental illness is a taboo topic in some African cultures. A study done by BioMed Central in Northern Nigeria found that at least 34.3% of respondents believed that drug and alcohol abuse was “a major cause of mental illness.” Commonwealth Health reports that the widespread stigma makes families hide their members who are suffering from mental illness because of the discrimination they have to endure.
  5. Other Diseases: Many African countries are still fighting a number of deadly communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cholera, malaria and tuberculosis. As a result, the governments of these nations prioritize helping people survive these illnesses. A mere 3% of Nigeria’s health is invested in mental health: the other 97% goes to other health departments. This means that people with functional mental disorders are usually unnoticed and have difficulties accessing appropriate professional help.

Despite all the issues, progress is steadily being made. In Burundi, lay community counselors started screening people and encouraging dialogue about mental health. They emphasized educating parents about better ways to discipline children without causing trauma. Additionally, cognitive behavioral therapy has been helping people in Sub-Saharan Africa to deal with depression. Crisis assistance hotlines were also put in place to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts and other urgent crises. All these intervention alternatives highly depend on the community counselors to integrate the strategies with their respective cultures in order to provide relevant solutions.

Many African nations are trying to invest more in mental health and encourage people to seek professional help. Moving forward, countries must continue to support mental health research and intervention measures, prioritizing both the mental and physical health of Africans.

Care to discuss? Leave a comment.

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