The World Health Organisation Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called for global focus on the detrimental effect work can have on people’s mental health.
This is after two UN agencies; the WHO and the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched two publications that aim to prevent negative work situations and cultures while also offering mental health protection and support for employees.
He says that with an estimated 12 billion workdays lost annually due to depression and anxiety, costing the global economy nearly $1 trillion, more action is needed to tackle mental health issues at work.
He warns that poor mental health can also have a debilitating impact on a person’s performance and productivity.
The WHO guidelines contain actions to tackle risks to mental health at work such as heavy workloads, negative behaviours, and other factors that can create distress.
For the first time, the UN health agency recommends manager training, to build their capacity to prevent stressful work environments and respond to workers’ needs.
WHO’s World Mental Health Report, published in June, revealed that of one billion people estimated to be living with a mental disorder in 2019, 15 percent of working-age adults experienced a mental disorder.
“As people spend a large proportion of their lives in work – a safe and healthy working environment is critical,” said, Guy Ryder, the ILO Director-General.
“We need to invest to build a culture of prevention around mental health at work, reshape the work environment to stop stigma and social exclusion, and ensure employees with mental health conditions feel protected and supported.” Ryder added.