Evaluation of Policy and Practice to Promote Mental Health in the Workplace in Europe

November 2014

Evaluation of policy and practice to promote mental health

Evidence from the WHO suggests that nearly half of the world’s population is affected by mental illness with an impact on their self-esteem, relationships and ability to function in everyday life.

This study aims to establish the situation in the EU and EEA/EFTA countries on Mental Health in the Workplace, evaluate the scope and requirements of possible modifications of relevant EU Safety & Health at Work legislation, and elaborate a guidance document to accommodate corresponding risks/concerns, with a view to ultimately ensure adequate protection of workers’ mental health from workplace related risks.

On the basis of the above, the study had three objectives:

1 ) The first was to provide the European Commission with information on the situation in the EU and EFTA countries of mental health in the workplace. This required an in depth analysis of the current EU legal framework on workers’ health and safety protection.

2) The second objective was to develop a range of scenarios, and identify the pros and cons of each with the ultimate objective of providing a sufficiently robust information base on which the Commission may rely in order to consider policy options aiming to ensure that workers are effectively protected from risks to their mental health arising from workplace related conditions and/or factors.

3) Finally, the third objective was to develop a guidance document to help employers and workers alike fulfil their obligations, namely those explicitly provided for by Framework Directive 89/391/EEC, with the overarching objective of making sure that mental health is considered an inescapable element of any occupational safety and health (OSH) policy and practical measures.

The study addresses the situation across the EU, in individual EU Member States, and countries which form part of the European Economic Area. This report first presents a summary of the evidence in relation to mental health in the workplace across European countries. It then proceeds to present an analysis of the relevant policy framework, identifying current gaps that need to be addressed.

A series of case study analyses is used to identify scenarios for the future of EU mental health policy. These scenarios are evaluated on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis and recommendations on the way forward are offered.

Finally, the report will detail the development of the Guidance document foreseen by the Commission as well as an interpretative document of Framework Directive 89/391/EEC in relation to this area.

Client: European Commission - DG for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion (consortium led by Prevent)

Authors: Stavroula Leka, Aditya Jain, Irene Houtman, David McDaid, A-La Park, Veronique De Broeck & Richard Wynne

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