Government officials charged with the responsibility of executing staff management policies in the civil service have been asked to consider the impact the policies have on the wellbeing of affected employees during implementation.
Principal Secretary in the State Department for Public Service, Mrs Mary Kimonye, said implementing officers need to think about the effect such policies as delocalization, management transfers and disciplinary procedures have on the mental well health of the staff.
Kimonye said the execution of policy needed to have a human face since it had an effect on the affected officer’s family, health and finances and added due care should be taken to ensure officers are not left stressed when policy is implemented.
She spoke at the Embu Campus of the Kenya School of Government when she officially opened a two-week Counselling Skills course attended by human resources officers from ministries, departments, agencies and county governments.
Kimonye said the group is the fourth cohort in a program that has seen some 302 human resource officers trained in basic counselling skills that they can use to help staff going through difficult times.
She added that officers’ mental health could be negatively affected by alcohol and substance abuse, family life, financial mismanagement and workplace issues such as transfers.
She reiterated that human resource officers should have the skills to identify when there are negative changes in an officer’s life and take appropriate action in time.
Kimonye said the trained officers, who are expected to be mental health champions in their workplaces, will help in destigmatizing mental health issues and create awareness that people can get help if there is intervention as soon as the adverse effects are detected.
The PS said the government also recognized that its workers need to be in optimal mental health for them to produce optimally and advised HR officers not to rush to punish errant officers without attempting to find out the cause of the errant behaviour.
She said that as per the World Health Organization, some 264 million people suffer from depression globally leading to about 800,000 deaths annually.
Many of these people in middle and low income countries did not get the right medical care for their conditions due to insufficiently trained medical workers, high social stigma and inaccurate diagnosis.
The PS said that mental disorders when left unattended were responsible for the increasing cases of homicide, suicide and murder of spouses among government workers.
She said the training programme will be rolled out in the mainstream civil service and the disciplined forces.
By Steve Gatheru