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The new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) “Sick on the Job? Myths and Realities about Mental Health ar Work” takes a view on mental health and well-being from a socio-economic perspective and presents recommendations on greater equity and integration of mental health concerns into employment and social policies.

The report states that mental illness is widespread, with one in five people of working age suffering from a mental disorder of mostly mild or moderate nature (depression or anxiety). However, the prevalence rates show inequalities with prevalence rates higher for younger population, women and people with low levels of educational attainment. This clearly gives organisations as EPHA an impetus to call for health equity through acting on social determinants of health from a life-course and health in al policies approach.

EPHA briefing on EU policies and developments impacting on mental health here.

OECD report conclusions

The conclusions from the OECD report clearly show that:

– early life prevention, diagnosis and intervention is a key as half of all mental disorders start in childhood and adolescence;

– more attention should be given to common, mild and moderate mental disorders of workers and the unemployed;

– different health, employment, educational and social services should get integrated to comprehensively respond to people’s needs;

– non-health and non-mental health actors should get informed, trained and empowered to collaborate towards a shared goal of societal well-being;

– the evidence base should get improved as far too many missing data hinder any real and fast progress on the issue of mental health at the workplace.

Although adequate treatment improves significantly access and retaining employment, still almost 50% of people with severe mental illness and over 70% of those with a mild or moderate mental disorder do not receive any treatment for their condition.

Most people with mental disorders are employed, although the employment rate is just around 55-70% (which is up to 15% lower than for people with no mental illness). This poses a major productivity loss to a societal economic development. Even when employed, absenteism or underperforming for health reasons of workers with a mental disorder is often higher than other workers. This suggests that good-quality jobs, good working conditions and good management play a very important role.

People with mental disorders often receive and are dependant on unemployment benefits, disability allowance, social assistance and lone-parents benefits.

OECD Fact Sheet on mental health and Workplaces.
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EPHA related articles

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