Developing the National Guidelines on Workplace Mental Wellness: A Collaborative Approach
Promoting mental health and well-being in the workplace is crucial for the overall success and happiness of employees. To ensure a supportive and inclusive work environment, Kenya developed and launched its first National Guidelines on Workplace Mental Wellness on 14th September 2023.
In this blog post, we will explore the process behind the development of the National Guidelines on Workplace Mental Wellness and the collaborative efforts involved.
Step 1: Identification of the Need:
The first step in developing a national guideline is recognizing the importance of mental health in the workplace. This was informed by the Kenya mental health investment case 2021 which found that mental health conditions cost the Kenya economy KES 62.2 billion (US$571.8 million), an equivalent loss of 0.6% of the GDP in 2020. Majority of these costs were attributed to absenteeism (49%) and presenteeism (30%).
Initially the target of the guidelines was health care workers, however upon consultation with public and private sector stakeholders the scope was broadened to all employers and employees in Kenya’s formal and informal sectors.
Step 2: Formation of a team to lead on development of the National Guidelines on Workplace Mental Wellness:
A multisectoral team lead by the Division of mental health, Ministry of Health Kenya with support from United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were tasked with the development of these guidelines. The Guidelines were developed through a consultative process involving diverse stakeholders including other line Ministries, Council of Governors, Civil Society, professional associations, trade unions, human resource associations and federation of employers. The input from the stakeholders enriched the guidelines.
Step 3: Extensive Research and Evidence Gathering:
The team conducted a detailed desk review on existing guidelines on workplace wellness, international best practices, scientific literature, and legislation related to mental health in the workplace. The evidence generated from the desk review served as the foundation for these guidelines.
Step 4: Guideline Framework Development:
The guideline was developed through a consultative multisectoral process that included drafting workshops, stakeholder engagement and internal and external validation. Based on the desk review findings and stakeholder input, a structured framework was established. The framework aimed to identify specific challenges and potential solutions, ensuring the guideline's relevance and feasibility.
Step 5: Drafting the Guideline:
The desk review and stakeholder consultations informed the various drafts of these guidelines. These Workplace Mental Wellness Guidelines were developed to provide all organizations in Kenya a guideline for promoting mental wellness, preventing mental health conditions and providing mechanisms for screening, linkage, care, and recovery for those already affected. The guidelines clearly outline 6 steps to the realization of this objective, these are:
Step 1: Obtain leadership support and commitment
Step 2: Appoint a workplace mental wellness committee
Step 3; Develop a workplace mental wellness policy
Step 4. Develop a costed work plan and mobilize resources
Step 5. Operationalize the workplace mental wellness program
Step 6. Undertake continuous monitoring, evaluation and improvement
Step 6: Pilot Testing:
During the guideline's development, it involved multiple rounds of consultation with stakeholders. Feedback was collected from employers, employees, and other relevant parties to make necessary adjustments.
Step 7: Validation and Revision:
An extensive validation process of the draft guidelines was conducted. The Ministry of Health, relevant government agencies, Mental health professionals, legal experts, and other stakeholders provided feedback, ensuring its compliance with existing laws, regulations, and industry standards.
Step 8: Launch and Implementation:
Once the guideline was finalized, it was officially launched at Mathari National Teaching and Referral Hospital on 14th September 2023. Employers are encouraged to adopt and implement the guideline, promoting mental health and well-being among their employees. Awareness campaigns and training programs are to be conducted to ensure effective implementation.
Step 9: Monitoring and Evaluation:
To assess the impact of the guideline, a monitoring and evaluation system has been established. Key indicators such as absenteeism rates, productivity levels, and employee satisfaction surveys are used to measure the guideline's effectiveness. Regular reviews and updates are conducted to address emerging needs and improve its impact.
Step 10: Continuous Improvement:
The Ministry of Health recommends that all organizations embrace these guidelines to safeguard employees' mental wellness. As the field of mental health evolves, continuous improvement of the guideline is essential. Regular feedback from employers, employees, and mental health professionals will help identify areas for enhancement.
The development of the National Mental Health Workplace Guideline involved a collaborative effort of multiple stakeholders committed to promoting mental health and well-being in the workplace. By recognizing the importance of mental health and implementing comprehensive guidelines, employers can create supportive environments that prioritize the holistic well-being of employees. Through continuous improvement, these guidelines evolve with the changing needs of the workforce, fostering healthier workplaces for all.
- Kenya Mental Health Investment Case 2021 Available at https://mental.health.go.ke/download/kenya-mental-health-investment-case-2021/ accessed 16th October 2023
- WHO guidelines on mental health at work. 2022. Available at https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240053052 accessed 16th October 2023
- National Guidelines on Workplace Mental Wellness 2023 Available at http://guidelines.health.go.ke:8000/media/Workplace_Mental_Wellness_Guideline-2023-308-With_Sign.pdf accessed 16th October 2023