Why It Matters

Mental health problems cause an enormous burden both for the individual and the society.

It is estimated that mental disorders will cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030. This economic cost is primarily due to early onset of mental illness and lost productivity, with an estimated 12 billion working days lost due to mental illness every year. Common mental conditions, such as stress, depression and anxiety, account for about 40% of all cases of occupational diseases, and these conditions are usually treatable and often even preventable. In the case of depression, on average an estimated 36 workdays are lost each year.

The associated cost of depression in the workplace in the 27 European countries is more than 600,000 million euros per year, and most of this (270,000 million euros) is experienced by companies in the form of absenteeism and presenteeism.

A number of interventions have been developed to promote wellbeing and prevent or treat mental disorders in the workplace.

Some of these focus on organization structures and try to reduce, or eliminate, psychosocial stressors at work. Other interventions focus on the individual directly, and aim at developing psychological resources that help people to better cope with the sometimes inevitable stresses of working. Other individual interventions focus more generally on promoting good health habits such as improving diet or increasing physical activity.

Although effective interventions are available, widespread implementation face a number of barriers.

First, mental health and wellbeing are rarely viewed as priorities by employers and operational demands limit the resources that are available for workforce mental health and wellbeing programs. The significance of mental health at the workplace is not appreciated. Stigma against people with mental illness tends to lower participation in interventions.

Stigma and discrimination at the workplace.

Stigma and discrimination at the workplace have been associated with delayed access to treatment, weakened social support, difficulties in the performance of occupational and social roles, unemployment, and diminished self-esteem.