In order to address mental health issues among working people, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have called for decisive action.
Anxiety and depression are thought to cause 12 billion missed workdays annually, costing the world economy close to $1 trillion. Today saw the release of two new documents that seek to address this issue: a WHO/ILO policy brief and guidelines on mental health at work.
The World Health Organization’s global guidelines on mental health at work suggest taking steps to address mental health risks, including excessive workloads, unfavourable behaviours, and other elements that cause distress at work. For the first time, the WHO suggests manager training to increase their ability to identify stressful work environments and assist distressed employees.
The guidelines also suggest improved approaches to meeting the needs of employees with mental health disorders, suggest interventions to support their return to work, and, in the case of individuals with severe mental health disorders, offer interventions to make entry into paid employment easier. Crucially, the guidelines ask for actions meant to safeguard emergency, humanitarian, and medical personnel.
“We need to pay attention to the negative impact that work can have on our mental health,” stated WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “A person’s performance and productivity can be severely impacted by poor mental health, but the well-being of the individual is sufficient justification for action. These new regulations can protect employees’ mental health and provide much-needed support, all while assisting in the prevention of unfavorable work environments and cultures.