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Mental health disorders impose significant barriers for the EU realising its policy objectives for improved public health and recovered economic growth. But what is the estimated contribution good mental health can add to EU economy? What numbers are to convince policy-makers and employers to invest in mental health promotion and mental disorders prevention actions? This Economic Analysis of Workplace Programmes gives answers to these questions.

After launch of the Joint Action on Mental Health and Well-Being on 21 February 2013, the Commission updated its related EU-Compass for Action on Mental Health and Well being – a tool for sharing information on mental health situations and activities across the EU.

The Commission revised its November 2012 report on Economic analysis of workplace mental health promotion and mental disorder prevention programmes. The publication contains relevant implications for EU-policy objectives of promoting the sustainability of health and social welfare systems, increasing the employment rate of the population and increasing the productivity of the economy.

Key findings:

1. Major past and expected future trends: today, workplace mental disorders account for a substantial share of the health problems workers suffer from (OECD, 2011). In the EU25, productivity-related costs of mental disorders reach 136.6 billion euro (McDaid, 2008), and these costs will continue to grow with the ageing population and repercussions of the current economic crisis.

2. Economic impact of mental disorders on health, social welfare and employment systems: annually, a total of nearly 620 billion euro is spent in the EU27 due to work-related depression only. It is an indication of the seriousness of the problem.

3. Workplace mental health promotion and mental disorder programmes avaialable: groupped into universal, targeted and treatment programmes, they generate improved mental health, improve employment outcomes and bring economic returns.

4. Role of health and social welfare systems in workplace mental health promotion and mental disorder programmes: as a public health issue, combating the impact of mental health disorders does not fall solely under one specific policy department – it is rather a Mental health in All Policies approach that is recommended for scale up.

5. Contribution of mainstreamed workplace mental health promotion and mental disorder programmes to realising EU health, social and economic policy: it is estimated that the net economic benefits generated by these programmes range from -3 billion to +135 billion euro.

To summarize, from a perspective of employers, most of the interventions bring benefits that significantly outweigh the costs invested. The report suggests proposing mechanisms of shared funding and creation of national and local level incentives.

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