Mental health in the workplace

WHO/Faith Kilford Vorting

Well-being in the workplace influences health and productivity. A negative work environment or excessive job strain – a result of the interaction between high job demands and inadequate job resources – may lead to physical and mental health problems and increased substance abuse.

Various factors can impact the mental health of workers. Most risk factors are related to inadequate managerial and organizational environments, stressful occupations, lack of support, and lack of individual skills and competencies.

Common mental conditions such as depressive and anxiety disorders in the working population result not only in individual suffering, but also in productivity losses and economic burdens for health-care systems. Lost productivity due to mental ill health in the WHO European Region accounts for costs of US$ 140 billion per year.

Interventions to promote and protect mental health in the workplace should consist of raising awareness of the importance of mental health, informing employees of the help available, involving employees in decision-making, offering programmes for career development, and recognizing and rewarding work performance. In recognition of the importance of this issue, World Mental Health Day 2017 focused on mental health in the workplace.