Creating a culture of prevention around mental health at work

October 14, 2022
Work can have a detrimental effect on mental health and organisations must address the risks to mental health, says the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Poor mental health can have a debilitating impact on an employee’s performance and productivity, and organisations need to act now, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

He added, “The well-being of the individual is reason enough to act, but poor mental health can also have a debilitating impact on a person’s performance and productivity.”

The Director General of the WHO was speaking as the WHO and International Labour Organisation (ILO) jointly called for concrete action to address mental health concerns in the working population.

With an estimated 12 billion workdays lost annually due to depression and anxiety causing the global economy nearly US$1 trillion, the WHO Guidelines on mental health at work and a derivative WHO/ILO policy brief have been released to offer insights to address this issue.

WHO’s global guidelines on mental health at work recommend actions to tackle risks to mental health, including building managers’ capacity to prevent stressful work environments and respond to workers in distress.

WHO also called for better ways to accommodate the needs of workers with mental health conditions, including interventions that facilitate entry into paid employment for those with severe mental health conditions.

The WHO/ILO policy meanwhile, calls for investment and leadership to support the prevention of mental health risks, protect and promote mental health at work, and support those with mental health conditions so they can participate and thrive in the world of work.

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, said, “As people spend a large proportion of their lives in work, a safe and healthy working environment is critical. We need to invest to build a culture of prevention around mental health at work, reshape the work environment to stop stigma and social exclusion, and ensure employees with mental health conditions feel protected and supported.”

This article was first published on HRM Asia

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