Prioritising Self-Care for Mental Well-being and Productivity in South Africa
8 May 2023

 By Talya da Silva: Production Director, Bateleur Brand Planning

In recent years, mental health has gained global attention as a critical component of overall health. While physical health is crucial, nurturing our mental health helps us navigate challenging times, become more resilient, and enjoy a better quality of life. However, South Africans still face significant challenges in accessing mental healthcare.

According to Bateleur’s previous Vantage Point survey, 43% of people who classify themselves as unhappy worry about their mental health, depression, and anxiety.

The latest Vantage Point survey shows that only 10% of South Africans currently see a mental health professional. This may be due to several factors, such as the cost of seeing a mental health professional, limited access to mental health professionals, or the perceived stigma associated with seeking help.

Maintaining a positive state of mind is believed by many of the respondents to be bolstered by the following, according to the latest survey:

  • 59% of people ensure they get enough sleep,
  • 59% do light physical activity,
  • 54% spend time outdoors,
  • 50% pursue hobbies they enjoy, and
  • 47% avoid stressful situations.

However, while therapy and medication can be essential for mental health support, self-therapy, or self-care, is growing in popularity among South Africans.

Self-care aims to maintain physical health, reduce stress, maintain good mental health, and cultivate healthy relationships. Prioritising self-care can be challenging as people often prioritise others’ needs over their own, leading to burnout and compromised well-being. However, taking time for oneself is not selfish, but instead can improve overall mood and positively impact relationships with others. Self-care has additional benefits, such as reducing burnout and enhancing self-esteem.

It is a common misconception that self-care activities should occur outside business hours. However, integrating self-care into the workday can be more beneficial for productivity. Chronic workplace stress negatively affects employees’ and employers’ health and well-being, leading to decreased productivity, increased burnout, more sick days, poor judgment, and less teamwork and collaboration.

Intellect (2022) reports high employee disengagement and burnout, highlighting the need for a workplace culture promoting self-care. Managers can lead by example in creating a culture that promotes their team’s mental well-being, including not scheduling meetings during lunch breaks, not scheduling meetings or calling team members after hours, and not expecting replies to emails outside work hours.

In conclusion, prioritising self-care is crucial for mental well-being and productivity in South Africa. By adopting self-care practices and promoting a workplace culture, individuals and organisations can improve overall health and well-being.


(2022) A culture of self-care at the workplace: why it matters and how to build one. Available at:

Spitz, E. (2023) Why Self-Care Matters for Both Employers and Employees. Available at: