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With so much focus on our physical health during the current Covid-19 pandemic, experts are urging employers not to ignore the mental wellbeing of staff.

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group calls to their hotline have more than doubled since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown, meaning they're now answering an average of 600 calls every day.

Mental health advocates say that the lockdown and its effects have led to an increase in depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among South Africans and they warn that as the pandemic drags on, the mounting combination of death, joblessness, and uncertainty is fuelling a mental health crisis.

Wonderboy Peters is the founder of the Mind and Dignity Foundation. He's urging employers to be aware of signs that staff may be struggling with their mental health.

He spoke to Lester Kiewit about how employers can help support their staff through the Covid-19 crisis.

I've found that those in authority tend to be quite ignorant about issues like depression and anxiety because we don't talk about it openly. There's still a lot stigma attached to it.

Wonderboy Peters, Founder - Mind and Dignity Foundation

[With] our own bosses and managers, there's a lot of education that needs to take place with them so that we can create a world and context wherein people are at ease to explain themselves or express themselves.

Wonderboy Peters, Founder - Mind and Dignity Foundation

Through his Mind and Dignity Foundation, Peters says he is asking that those in authority start having conversations around mental health.

He also says that it is not just employers who should be looking out for signs of depression and low mood in their workers:

We should be cautious, even in our own families. Parents are not earning, people have lost jobs...

Wonderboy Peters, Founder - Mind and Dignity Foundation

Listen to the full interview below:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Spike in calls to SA suicide prevention hotline since start of lockdown

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