• 29 July 2019
  • USB-ED
  • 2 min

Healthy organisations need healthy leaders

On July the 10th, USB-ED, in partnership with Global Natives, hosted a Knowledge Sharing event in Mauritius with the topic: “Healthy leaders, healthy organizations” with Prof Renata Schoeman, Associate Professor: Leadership at USB and psychiatrist in private practice, as the guest speaker.

"In today's business environment, leaders at all levels - across industries, sectors and geographies - are confronted by powerful, disruptive forces that are making their jobs more challenging than ever. With a new world order of global interconnectedness, leaders at all levels must contend with chronic uncertainty, intense competition and personal burnout. More than 40% of all work-related illness is due to work-related and major depression, burnout and anxiety disorders which result in a significant negative economic impact globally," said Schoeman.

According to the World Health Organization, mental health can be defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community (2015). Mental health problems affect one in four South Africans with 75% of South Africans living with a mental health disorder not receiving treatment (Lund et al., 2013). This is not only due to the spread of services in the country, but also due to the stigma surrounding mental health disorders – which is fueled by a lack of knowledge, which impedes people affected to seek assistance and treatment. In Mauritius, mental health disorders contribute 5.73% to the total disease burden in the country (WHO, 2017).

Using the analogy of immunization, Prof Schoeman explained that a leader should “vaccinate” him or herself against stress-related conditions. "Mental health disorders can be prevented through deliberate and consistent self care – which should focus on six dimensions of health (physical, emotional, intellectual, vocational, social and spiritual). This enables leaders to build resilience."

"The secondary benefit of vaccination is herd immunity, also known as community immunity. Herd immunity refers to the protection offered to everyone in a community by high vaccination rates. With enough people immunized against a given disease, it’s difficult for the disease to gain a foothold in the community. If enough leaders invest in building their resilience, they offer some protection to their teams!"

At the session, Prof Schoeman gave scientific evidence and practical advice regarding selfcare, as well as preventative strategies within an organization. "Building healthy and resilient organizations requires healthy people and a healthy culture - resulting in a significant return on investment (of 3-6 to 1 when considering economic benefits and value of health returns).

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