Between 15 and 30% of working South Africans will experience mental problems at some point in their careers, said a consulting company on Monday.
Around 30% of those would suffer chronic mental health problems, said Jacques Snyman, product development director at Agility Global Health Solutions.
The information was released to coincide with World Mental Health Day.
"Acting as a trigger to severe psychiatric conditions, such as depression, stress can also lead to acute psychotic episodes," said Snyman.
The SA Stress and Health (SASH) study ranked the country as seventh highest in the world for the prevalence of mood disorders and sixth for the prevalence of anxiety disorders.
Work stress ignored
Businesses should be concerned about these figures, he said.
An Australian study conducted by Medibank found that stress-related absenteeism and "presenteeism" cost the country's economy 14.8 billion Australian dollars (around R115bn) a year.
For employers, the direct cost was estimated at 10.1bn Australian dollars (around R78bn).
"Work stress is often ignored to the detriment of both the employee and employer," Snyman said.
"Employers should adopt a more compassionate approach to their employees' well-being by allowing them time off work to proactively manage their mental health."
Agility Global Health Solutions is a consulting company that provides solutions to clients who pay for health services.
(Sapa, October 2011)