Excerpted from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-at-work from the World Health Organization (WHO)
- 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.
- 15% of working-age adults were estimated to have a mental disorder in 2019.
- 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.
- There are effective actions to prevent mental health risks at work, protect and promote mental health at work, and support workers with mental health conditions.
Work can protect mental health
Almost 60% of the world 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.
Create an enabling environment for change
Both governments and employers, in consultation with key stakeholders, can help improve mental health at work by creating an enabling environment for change. In practice this means strengthening:
- Leadership and commitment to mental health at work, for example by integrating mental health at work into relevant policies.
- Investment of sufficient funds and resources, for example by establishing dedicated budgets for actions to improve mental health at work and making mental health and employment services available to lower-resourced enterprises.
- Rights to participate in work, for example by aligning employment laws and regulations with international human rights instruments and implementing non-discrimination policies at work.
- Integration of mental health at work across sectors, for example by embedding mental health into existing systems for occupational safety and health.
- Participation of workers in decision-making, for example by holding meaningful and timely consultations with workers, their representatives and people with lived experience of mental health conditions.
- Evidence on psychosocial risks and effectiveness of interventions, for example by ensuring that all guidance and action on mental health at work is based on the latest evidence.
- Compliance with laws, regulations and recommendations, for example by integrating mental health into the responsibilities of national labour inspectorates and other compliance mechanisms.
WHO is committed to improving mental health at work. The WHO global strategy on health, environment and climate change and WHO Comprehensive mental health action plan (2013–2030) outline relevant principles, objectives and implementation strategies to enable good mental health in the workplace. These include addressing social determinants of mental health, such as living standards and working conditions; reducing stigma and discrimination; and increasing access to evidence-based care through health service development, including access to occupational health services. In 2022, WHO’s World mental health report: transforming mental health for all, highlighted the workplace as a key example of a setting where transformative action on mental health is needed.
The WHO guidelines on mental health at work provide evidence-based recommendations to promote mental health, prevent 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 accompanying policy brief by WHO and the International Labour Organization, Mental health at work: policy brief provides a pragmatic framework for implementing the WHO recommendations. It specifically sets out what governments, employers, organizations representing employers and workers, and other stakeholders can do to improve mental health at work.