EA employers urged to invest in mental health programmes

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 22:50 | By
Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) says more than a million Kenyans lost their jobs due to down-sizing and layoffs in order to survive the pandemic. Photo/PD/Jimmy Githaka

East African companies have been asked to develop policies that address the mental health wellness of its employees, in the face of massive layoffs following the economic downturn through the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Kenya, families were left in distress with over 700,000 bread winners from the private sector retrenched, as companies fortified against losses, data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates.

The situation has been aggravated by soaring inflation, which hit an all time high of 8.3 per cent in July, the highest since 2017 stoked by rising food and record fuel prices stemming from choked supply chains caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Private sector

According to a barometer report by the East African Business Council (EABC) released this week, the employees from the private sector were depressed by unexpected salary cut-offs, some of which to date has not been adjusted to pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels by some companies, with the KNBS statistics indicating that the number of employed people in dropped to17.4 million from 18.1 million, a decline never recorded before in the country.

EABC, the regional apex body of private sector associations and corporates suggested that the companies including those from Kenya have not invested in interventions such as provision of counselling services. “Businesses should also put in place policies relating to mental health wellness since the pandemic affected employees psychologically since some were laid off, others lost family members while others were infected by Covid-19,” EABC noted.

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