Globally, May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month. In alignment with this important cause, Saint John of God Hospitaller Services, one of the leading mental health organizations in Malawi, organized a Mental Health Wellness Workshop. The events took place on May 9th, 2024, in Lilongwe and on May 16th, 2024, in Blantyre, targeting Human Resource practitioners and personnel involved in Corporate Social Responsibility. The aim was to prioritize mental health in the workplace and foster collaboration with various organizations to improve access to mental health services.

Lilongwe Workshop Highlights

The Lilongwe workshop commenced with a presentation by Dr. Mwawi Ng’oma, the Programs Manager of the Lilongwe Service, who outlined the various services offered by Saint John of God Hospitaller Services. This was followed by a General Mental Health talk led by our Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Ndumanene Devlin Silungwe, which constituted the main part of the workshop. Dr. Silungwe emphasized the importance of mental health in the workplace and the need for organizations to develop comprehensive mental health policies. He highlighted the low investment in mental health services in Malawi, which he described as a significant risk to the nation’s development goals, including Vision 2063.

Dr. Silungwe stressed that recent economic, health, and environmental shocks, such as devaluations, COVID-19, and Cyclone Freddy, have exacerbated mental health challenges, directly impacting productivity. He urged stakeholders to increase their investment in mental health services to ensure sustainable production and fruitfulness.

The final presentation in Lilongwe focused on a donation drive, led by Psychologist Ms. Vimbayinashe Chibambo, who shared potential areas for collaboration with organizations as part of their corporate social responsibility in the mental health space. The workshop concluded with a heartfelt thank you to the 73 participants from 40 organizations who contributed to the success of the event.

Dr Ng’oma giving her presentations
Dr Silungwe giving his presentation at the Lilongwe workshop

Blantyre Workshop highlights

The Blantyre workshop, held at the National Bank Leadership Center (Moneymen), echoed the themes discussed in Lilongwe. Dr. Silungwe reiterated the necessity for the corporate world to develop mental health policies and increase investments in mental health services. He pointed out that inadequate attention to mental health could hinder Malawi’s development.

Dr. Silungwe highlighted the impact of mental health challenges on productivity, noting that mental health issues often lead to decreased worker efficiency as employees are preoccupied with personal and external catastrophes. He advocated for a proactive approach, where companies focus on mental health policies and seek professional help for affected employees rather than resorting to dismissals.

In a separate interview, Mathews Banda, the Human Resource Manager for the Centre for Social Concern, Research, and Environmental Development (CSCRED), praised the workshop as an eye-opener. He observed that mental health challenges at workplaces are frequently overlooked, leading to increased turnover and reduced productivity. Banda emphasized the importance of rehabilitation and support for employees facing mental health issues.

The half-day workshop in Blantyre attracted human resource practitioners, managers, and those responsible for corporate social responsibility from various organizations, reinforcing the message that mental health is a crucial component of a productive and sustainable workforce.

Moving Forward

Saint John of God Hospitaller Services remains committed to leading the charge in mental health and psychosocial support in Malawi. The workshops in Lilongwe and Blantyre were significant steps toward raising awareness and encouraging corporate entities to invest in mental health. We look forward to continued collaboration with our partners and stakeholders to promote mental wellness in the workplace and beyond.

We extend our deepest gratitude to all participants and organizations involved in these workshops. Together, we can create a supportive environment that prioritizes mental health and enhances overall productivity and well-being.

Above: The workshop in Blantyre, during Dr. Silungwe’s presentation

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