Setting the Scene for Workplace Mental Health Promotion in a Swaziland Sugar Mill

Monday, 31 July 2017: 11:45 AM

Agnes A. Huiskamp, MA (Nsg)
Department of Nursing Education, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Sifiso Manana, BA (Nsg)
HIV/AIDS, Medecins sans Frontiers, Mbabane, Swaziland

Purpose: The purpose of the study was to provide a descriptive summary of the mental health promotion needs related to the workplace of sugar mill factory workers in Swaziland.

 Methods: A qualitative descriptive design was used and unstructured in-depth interviews were conducted with 20 purposively selected factory workers. Two questions were asked of the participants namely Please tell me about your mental health (impilo yakho yengcodvo) and what do you think the workplace can do to help improve your mental health? To clarify answers and responses probes were used to enrich the participants’ descriptions. Data collection and analysis occurred concurrently until data saturation was achieved. The interviews were transcribed verbatim immediately after the interview and Tesch’s (1992) method of data analysis was used.

Results: Two themes emerged from the interviews namely: Factors that influence mental health negatively (stressors) and mental health promotion needs in relation to the workplace. A major stressor for most of the participants was an inadequate salary. Other work related stressors that emanated from the data were heavy workloads and long hours, management style and approach, communication in the workplace and employee development.The factory workers were of the opinion that an increase in salary, improvement in conditions of employment and enhanced management and communication skills will ease the stressors. Furthermore, the participants indicated that health education and life skills education on financial management, mental health and stress management can facilitate the promotion of their mental health.

 Conclusion: Mental health was not a familiar concept to the factory workers however stress was better known. Factory workers experience diverse conditions in the workplace as stressful. Economic factors such as the salary received caused a lot of stress for most participants. Factory workers want to learn more about mental health, stress and financial management and are of the opinion that if there is improvement in their working conditions and communication skills of supervisors and managers a more mentally healthier workplace can be created.The study can potentially set the scene for workplace mental health promotion gaining momentum in Swaziland.