Mental illness is a growing problem in society and is increasingly affecting productivity and well being in the workplace, according to a new OECD report. It says that one in five workers suffer from a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, and many are struggling to cope.
Three in four workers with a mental disorder report reduced productivity at work, compared to one in four workers without a mental disorder. Work absences are also much more frequent for workers with mental illness, and about 30% to 50% of all new disability benefit claims in OECD countries are now attributed to mental ill health.
The report challenges some of the myths around mental health and concludes that insurers and policymakers need to look for new solutions. Increasing job insecurity and pressure in today's workplaces could drive a rise in mental health problems in the years ahead, says the OECD. The share of workers exposed to work-related stress, or job strain, has increased in the past decade.
To help sufferers, a new approach is needed in the workplace. 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.
Many private medical insurance policies either exclude or offer limited cover for mental health issues. Using the term-psychological treatment – as many do-is out of date in how many mental health issues are treated.