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Employee Wellbeing and Mental Health; with Afya Mentali

The conversation surrounding employee wellbeing and mental health is no longer confined to whispers in the workplace. As Kenya’s entrepreneurial ecosystem thrives, initiatives like the Afya Mentali project by the Kenya Entrepreneurs Conference on Trade & Development (KENCTAD) highlight the growing recognition of a healthy workforce as the backbone of a strong economy.

Afya Mentali, meaning “Mental Health” in Swahili, embodies this commitment. Aligned with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 3.4, the project champions employee mental well-being through a multi-faceted approach:

  • Connecting with Professionals: Afya Mentali facilitates access to qualified mental health specialists, ensuring employees receive support and guidance when needed.
  • Fitness for the Mind: Recognizing the link between physical and mental health, the project promotes physical activity through initiatives like the Afya Mentali walk. This not only encourages a healthy lifestyle but also serves as a powerful symbol of the project’s mission.

Beyond Resources: Building a Supportive Workplace

Afya Mentali goes beyond simply offering resources. It aims to foster a cultural shift within Kenyan businesses, prioritizing employee mental well-being through several key activities:

  • Education and Awareness: Workshops, seminars, and online resources raise awareness about mental health conditions, their impact, and available coping mechanisms. This empowers employees to understand and manage their own mental health.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Afya Mentali works to integrate or establish EAPs within companies. These programs provide confidential access to mental health professionals, counseling services, and support groups, ensuring employees have a safe space to seek help.
  • Workplace Wellness: Physical activity is actively promoted through initiatives beyond the Afya Mentali walk. Yoga sessions and on-site fitness facilities further demonstrate the project’s commitment to holistic well-being.
  • Stress Management: The project equips employees with the tools to identify and manage work-related stress, anxiety, and burnout through dedicated workshops.
  • Peer Support: A network of trained “Mental Health Champions” is established within companies. These champions provide crucial peer support and encourage open conversations about mental health, dismantling the stigma often associated with it.

Sustainability: Building a Long-Term Impact

Afya Mentali recognizes the importance of long-term sustainability. The project fosters partnerships with local mental health organizations to ensure ongoing support and resource access for employees. Additionally, Afya Mentali activities are integrated into the company culture, promoting mental health awareness as a continuous effort. Finally, the project advocates for mental health policies and benefits within organizations, such as mental health days and flexible work arrangements, creating a truly supportive work environment.

The Afya Mentali project serves as a model for Kenyan businesses to prioritize employee mental wellbeing. By fostering open communication, providing support services, and promoting self-care, Afya Mentali contributes to a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce. This, in turn, strengthens the foundation of a robust national economy, aligning perfectly with KENCTAD’s mission and contributing to the achievement of SDG Target 3.4. As Kenya’s entrepreneurial scene flourishes, initiatives like Afya Mentali pave the way for a future where mental well-being is no longer an afterthought but a core value within the workplace.

KENCTAD
KENCTAD
https://www.kenctad.co.ke

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