Mental health at the workplace – World Mental Health Day 2017

WHO/Malin Bring

10 October 2017

World Mental Health Day takes place on 10 October each year. It is a day for global mental health awareness-raising and advocacy. This year, World Mental Health Day focuses on mental health at the workplace – a vital concern considering that the majority of people with mental conditions are of working age and that the productivity losses due to common mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety disorders, are so substantial. A recent WHO-led study estimated that these common mental disorders account for more than 50 million lost years of work and cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion a year in lost productivity. In the WHO European Region alone, the estimated cost exceeds US$ 140 billion per year. A further notable finding is that, compared to other health conditions, depression and anxiety disorders impose a 30% higher toll on the employer and economy (due to longer average periods off work).

Well-being at the workplace influences health and productivity, and a negative work environment may lead to physical and mental health problems, alcohol consumption and substance abuse. The risk of developing work-related depression, stress and burnout can be addressed by tackling some of the risks to mental health at the workplace, such as:

  • inadequate health and safety policies
  • poor communication and management practices
  • limited participation in decision-making or low control over one’s area of work
  • low levels of support for employees
  • inflexible working hours
  • unclear tasks or organizational objectives.

Interventions and good practices that protect and promote mental health in the workplace include informing staff that help is available, involving employees in decision-making and supporting a good work-life balance.

Mental health at work relates to both the effects of the workplace on people’s mental health and the impact of mental health problems on the workplace. Read more about this and about creating a healthy workplace in the information sheet listed below.