Mental Health at Work26/04/2012
Have you ever been depressed or suffered from anxiety? If so, you are not
alone. A recent report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) says that one in five workers currently suffers from a
mental disorder, and many are struggling to cope.
Mental illness is a growing problem, affecting productivity in the workplace and worker well-being. The report says that poor mental health represents about 30% to 50% of all new disability benefit claims in OECD nations. The economic burden of mental illness in Canada alone was estimated to be $51 billion in 2003, according to the Institute for Work and Health.
The OECD's report, entitled Sick on the Job? Myths and Realities about Mental Health at Work found that workers with a mental disorder miss work for illness more often than other workers. And of those with mental disorders who don't take sick leave, many may underperform in their jobs and have lower productivity compared to their mentally healthy colleagues.
"Such high losses in productivity suggest that policies directed at sickness monitoring and management are essential", says the report. "But this approach is not enough because it implies that intervention and support is in many cases coming too late. Good-quality jobs, good working conditions and, in particular, good management play a crucial role."
The OECD reports that mental illness is undertreated. Currently the focus of health systems is treating people with severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia who make up approximately 25% of sufferers. Less attention is being paid to the 75% of sufferers who have common mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. Almost 50% of those with a severe mental disorder and over 70% of those with a moderate mental disorder don't get any treatment for their illness, and for many of those who do, treatment is inadequate. Most common mental disorders can get better, and taking them more seriously would increase the likelihood of people receiving proper treatment and staying at work, or returning to work.
The OECD calls for policymakers to find new ways to tackle the social and economic problem of mental illness. With growing job insecurity and work pressure, work-related stress and job strain are likely to increase in the years ahead, as may the prevalence of mental illness. "To help sufferers, a new approach is needed, especially in the workplace," says the OECD. "This includes good working conditions which reduce and better manage stress; systematic monitoring of sick leave behaviour; and help to employers to reduce workplace conflicts and avoid unnecessary dismissal caused by mental health problems."
AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety