Join Africa's fastest growing career community!


Mental Health in The Workplace: Know Your Rights

This article explores the critical role of mental health support in the workplace, emphasizing the impact of Kenya's Mental Health (Amendment) Act, 2022. It highlights the Act’s mandate for employers to provide supportive environments and mental health services. Employers are urged to prioritize mental health, fostering an environment where employees thrive and organizations succeed.

Article Preview Image

This article explores the critical role of mental health support in the workplace, emphasizing the impact of Kenya's Mental Health (Amendment) Act, 2022. It highlights the Act’s mandate for employers to provide supportive environments and mental health services. Employers are urged to prioritize mental health, fostering an environment where employees thrive and organizations succeed.

Image by Freepik

Work profoundly influences our health and well-being, providing financial stability, purpose, identity, and social connections. However, a toxic work environment can wreak havoc on our mental health, causing stress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. This growing issue affects everyone, regardless of their role within an organization, and significantly impacts both employee well-being and organizational productivity. While we may not control workplace conditions set by senior leaders, we can take steps to protect our mental health. Prioritizing mental well-being is crucial for maintaining a healthy, balanced life and ensuring sustained job performance.


The Legal Position On Mental Health At Work In Kenya

Kenya's legal framework for mental health in the workplace has been significantly strengthened by the Mental Health (Amendment) Act, 2022. This Act, influenced by Kenya's commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), emphasizes a rights-based approach to mental health services and introduces several key provisions to protect and promote mental health in the workplace.

Key Provisions and Legal Obligations:

  • Rights-Based Approach: The Act emphasizes human rights in mental health service provision, aligning with international standards. It explicitly recognizes the rights of individuals with mental health conditions, treating them as persons with disabilities entitled to full human rights protection.

  • Government Responsibilities: The Act outlines the roles of national and county governments:

    • National Government: Responsible for providing resources, developing a national mental health strategy, and setting standards for mental health facilities.

    • County Governments: Required to offer mental health care services, establish outpatient clinics, and develop community-based care programs.

  • Workplace Mental Health: Employers are mandated to ensure supportive workplace environments. This includes:

    • Providing access to mental health services.

    • Fostering a supportive work culture.

    • Implementing measures to prevent and address workplace stress and harassment.

The Mental Health (Amendment) Act, 2022, is a significant step towards creating more inclusive and supportive work environments in Kenya. It mandates that both public and private employers take active steps to support the mental health of their employees. By addressing mental health proactively, workplaces can enhance employee well-being, reduce absenteeism, and increase productivity, ultimately benefiting both individuals and organizations. 

Positive mental health in the workplace allows individuals to cope with life’s challenges and setbacks, both at work and at home. It helps employees flourish in their roles, manage stress, and boost resilience, ultimately reaching their highest potential. Teams remain agile when facing changing roles and responsibilities, enabling them to handle difficult challenges effectively.

This Act positions Kenya as a progressive nation in safeguarding mental health rights, especially in the workplace. Employers must now align their policies and practices with these legal requirements, fostering a healthier, more supportive work environment for all.


Importance Of Mental Health Support In The Workplace

Mental health support in the workplace is essential for several reasons:

  • Enhanced Employee Well-being - Supporting mental health helps employees manage stress, anxiety, and other issues, promoting overall well-being and a healthier work-life balance.

  • Increased Productivity - Employees receiving mental health support are more engaged and productive, reducing absenteeism and increasing presenteeism, which can significantly impact overall productivity.

  • Improved Employee Retention - A supportive environment improves employee retention by reducing turnover rates and the costs associated with hiring and training new staff.

  • Reduced Health Care Costs - Early mental health interventions can lower health care costs by reducing the need for extensive medical treatments and hospitalizations.

  • Positive Workplace Culture - Focusing on mental health fosters open communication, reduces stigma, and encourages employees to seek help, creating a more inclusive and supportive work environment.

  • Legal and Ethical Responsibility - Providing mental health support aligns with legal and ethical obligations, such as those outlined in Kenya's Mental Health (Amendment) Act, 2022, avoiding legal repercussions and demonstrating a commitment to employee rights.

  • Enhanced Reputation - Organizations that prioritize mental health support attract top talent, improve employee satisfaction, and build a positive public image.

  • Creating a Safe Space - Discussing workplace mental health and creating a safe space for open communication at all levels is crucial. This approach ensures that valuable feedback is not lost and helps retain valuable talent. Employees can better cope with difficulties, recognize and regulate emotions, empathize with others, and develop cognitive and basic skills necessary for their roles.

  • Better Team Dynamics - Mental health support improves team dynamics by encouraging effective collaboration, open communication, and positive contributions to team efforts.

  • Increased Innovation and Creativity - A mentally healthy workplace fosters creativity and innovation, enabling employees to think clearly, take risks, and develop innovative solutions.

  • Resilience and Adaptability - Supporting mental health builds resilience and adaptability, helping employees cope with change, stress, and challenges, making the organization more agile and capable of navigating disruptions.

Investing in mental health support in the workplace is not just beneficial—it’s essential. It cultivates a healthier, more productive, and engaged workforce, fostering a positive and resilient organizational culture. Employers who prioritize mental health create environments where everyone can thrive, driving long-term success. If you're struggling with mental health at work, reach out to someone you trust or the HR department, which is ideally positioned to provide the necessary guidance and support. Remember, prioritizing mental health is a win-win for both employees and organizations.

Written by

Monica Wanjiku

Monica is a seasoned marketing expert with a knack for strategy and relationship-building, she has over 5 years of experience in marketing and advertising in the green manufacturing sectors. She thrives in delivering exceptional results. When she's not dominating the boardroom, you'll find her lost in the pages of African novels, drawing inspiration for her writing. With a passion for community impact and positive change, Monica is ready to make waves wherever she goes.

Give a like!


Sign in to read comments and engage with the Fuzu community.

Login or Create a Free Account