Guidelines on Mental Health at Work
An estimated 15% of working-age adults have a mental disorder at any point in time. Depression and anxiety are estimated to cost the global economy US $1 trillion each year, driven predominantly by lost productivity. People living with severe mental health conditions are largely excluded from work despite participation in economic activities being important for recovery.
The WHO guidelines on mental health at work provide evidence-based recommendations to promote mental health conditions and enable people living with mental health conditions to participate and thrive in work. The recommendations cover organizational interventions, manager training and worker training, individual interventions, return to work, and gaining employment. The guidelines on mental health at work aim to improve the implementation of evidence-based interventions for mental health at work.
- Decent work is good for mental health.
- Poor working environments – including discrimination and inequality, excessive workloads, low job control and job insecurity – pose a risk to mental health.
Globally, an estimated 12 billion working days are lost every year to depression and anxiety at a cost of US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity.
Work Can Protect Mental Health
Almost 60% of the world’s population is in work (1). All workers have the right to a safe and healthy environment at work. Decent work supports good mental health by providing:
- a livelihood;
- a sense of confidence, purpose, and achievement;
- an opportunity for positive relationships and inclusion in a community; and
- a platform for structured routines, among many other benefits.
Safe and healthy working environments are not only a fundamental right but are also more likely to minimize tension and conflicts at work and improve staff retention, work performance and productivity. Conversely, a lack of adequate structures and support at work, especially for those living with mental health conditions, can affect a person’s ability to enjoy their work and do their job well; it can undermine people’s attendance at work and even stop people getting a job in the first place.
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