World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2019: No Future of Work without Mental Health


Brussels, 28th April 2019

On World Day for Safety and Health at Work, the European Alliance for Mental Health – Employment and Work (EUMH Alliance) highlights the importance of including mental health as part of a timely debate on the Future of Work in the EU. In a world where costs related to occupational mental health challenges are substantial[i] and constantly increasing[ii], discussions around the Future of Work will need to address potential negative effects of new forms of employment on mental health. In this context, the EU Framework Directive on occupational safety and health (OSH) should better ensure workers’ safety and health in every aspect related to changing realities of work, including mental wellbeing.

Changes in societies such as digital technology, demographic shifts, and changes in the way work is organised can encourage the promotion of positive mental health and wellbeing.  For example, flexibility and higher degrees of time control at work associated with non-traditional working arrangements (home working, short-term) may allow better work-life balance and decrease stress associated with commuting. However, they may also pose major threats to workers’ mental health and well-being. Our latest podcast demonstrates the impact of the gig and platform economy (freelancers, independent contractors, e.g. Uber or take-away food sites, digital developers) on young people’s mental health.

Such models of work often entail poor financial security and unstable job continuity. Furthermore, gig economy jobs are often characterised by a lack of social contact and poor management practices. More effort needs to be done to ensure better quality working conditions, including a more predictable income flow, to ensure these employment models do not bring about a worse situation for the workforce as regards occupational mental health and wellbeing.

It is essential for all companies and employers to take action to address stress and prevent burnout at work to ensure a bright future of work for all”, stated Laura Jones, Secretary General of EPR. “Such actions benefit all the workforce, not just those with mental health issues” she added. “Policy makers must also consider how to address the mental health challenges that workers in the gig and platform economies may experience“.

There is an urgent need for current OSH strategies to be reviewed to adapt to these developments and pro-actively protect and preserve the mental health of millions of workers. In an unregulated labour market which Future of Work scenarios may suggest, workers in precarious and low-paid jobs, particularly those with low levels of skills and autonomy, could easily end up being left behind in terms of health and wellbeing. Importantly, fair remuneration and addressing rapidly increasing in-work poverty rates will need to be in the center of debates on the future world of work.

Good mental health and wellbeing at work is fundamental to ensure quality of life for every worker – and their family – as well as positive economic outcomes for society as a whole. It is also imperative to look at the Future of Work in the EU agenda through a health equity lens. Occupational mental health promotion and prevention are an important and a smart way to invest our resources, and major EU-driven processes, such as the European Semester and the next EU funding programmes should acknowledge this”, says Caroline Costongs, EuroHealthNet’s Director.

The EUMH Alliance urges the EU and Member States to ensure better implementation and enforcement of the OSH Framework Directive, while further addressing mental health and psychosocial risks in their OSH strategies. The Alliance will continue to actively facilitate constructive dialogue between its members and beyond to ensure safe, secure, and predictable working environments for all workers. Addressing in-work poverty and work-life balance are a must, not an option. The decisions taken today shape the labour realities of tomorrow and, subsequently, the potential benefits for the health and wellbeing of European citizens.


The European Alliance for Mental Health – Employment & Work (EUMH Alliance) is an informal coalition of European organisations, the main aims of which are to promote mental health and well-being in the workplace, to advocate for equal access to the labour market for all people experiencing mental ill health and to stimulate policy developments at EU level in these domains. Our membership consists of:

European Association of Paritarian Institutions (AEIP)

International Association of Mutual Benefit Societies (AIM)

GGZ Nederland (Dutch Association of Mental Health and Addiction Care)

Mental Health Europe (MHE)


European Platform for Rehabilitation (EPR)


European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)

[i] EU/OECD (2018). Health at a Glance: Europe 2018. State of health in the EU cycle. (accessed on 23 April 2019)

[ii] EU-OSHA (2017). Estimating the cost of work-related accidents and ill-health: An analysis of European data sources. (accessed on 23 April 2019)


The effects of the gig economy on young people’s mental health.

Growing numbers of young people are working in temporary, flexible, and unstable jobs. In a new podcast, The European Alliance for Mental Health – Employment and Work explores what that means for young people’s mental health. It looks at how work and employment are changing, how new technology is shifting management styles, the job factors which support good mental health, and how to protect the mental health of those working in non-traditional employment.

The podcast features five experts discussing different aspects of employment and mental health. They explain that flexibility and higher degrees of control at work can be good for mental health. However, the lack of financial- and job security which accompanies non-traditional working arrangements is not. Lack of social contact, poor management practices, and a loss of many other factors that contribute to good quality employment characterise many gig economy jobs and may further contribute the to poor mental health of workers.

The podcast covers:

How the labour marked and work is changing for young people, and how that is connected to mental health with Shruti Singh, OECD

How the digitalisation of work is changing working practices with Molly Tran, Colorado School of Public Health

New and traditional working structures, and the factors which contribute to good mental health and wellbeing with Kevin Daniels, University of East Anglia.

Lessons to learn from the music industry – What musicians experiences of job insecurity can teach us about protecting the mental health of new gig economy workers with Sally-Anne Goss and George Musgrave, University of Westminster.

Mental health and employment-related issues to feature in the European Semester process: recommendations from European Mental Health Alliance

In July 2018, the EU Mental Health Alliance presented suggestions for reflection by the Commission on including the mental health dimension of employment, equal opportunities in the work place, and work life balance throughout the European Semester process.

The alliance recommendations are:

  • Systematically include the mental health dimension in national, regional and local strategies on active support to employment, including employability and job retention;
  • Recognise the positive impact of adequate work-life balance arrangements on mental health outcomes, society, and the economy at large in the Country Reports and Country-Specific Recommendations;
  • Systematically include the mental health dimension in national, regional, and local strategies on secure and adaptable employment, including those linked to mental health burden of informal care, precarious and non-standard labour contracts;
  • Integrate mental health in healthy, safe and well-adapted work environment, across life course (youth, working-age, older workers) and transition periods.

View the full document (.pdf)


World Day for Safety and Health at Work: Preserving the mental health of young workers and future generations



Brussels, 28th April 2018 – On World Day for Safety and Health at Work (SafeDay), the EUMH Alliancehighlights that occupational Safety and Health should not be limited to physical health. The EU Framework Directive on occupational safety and health (OSH)ensures the safety and health of workers in every aspect related to work, however this is often understood as physical safety and health. Physical and mental health are equally important and should be integral parts of OSH strategies in Europe. The mental health of all workers – especially of the young population – matters in OSH strategies.

Workplaces are ideal places to promote positive mental health and wellbeing; we spend a lot of our time and lives at work and appropriate OSH strategies can play a crucial role in protecting and preserving the health of millions of workers. “Risk factors at work can impact both the physical and mental health of all workers, and it is time for businesses and organisations to address it in a more integrated way.” says Jan Berndsen, Mental Health Europe President.

This year’s SafeDay is dedicated to young workers, who are at higher risks of accidents at work and may be exposed to poor working conditions leading to the development of occupational illnesses while still young or later in life. In Europe today, stress is the second most frequently reported work-related health problem and a reality for many young workers.

Psychosocial risk factors for young workers may be aggravated due to insufficient skills and training, persistance of temporary contract and job insecurity, lack of awareness of their rights and their employer’s duties, lack of confidence to speak out, lack of recognition and protection that older workers may benefit from.

Good mental health and wellbeing at work is fundamental to the quality of life of young people as well as positive economic outcomes for wider society. Prevention and early intervention measures are therefore vital, and prove a smart social return on investment.” stressed Caroline Costongs, Director of EuroHealthNet.

The European Union and its Member States have recently committed to create a fairer and a more social Europe through the adoption of the European Pillar of Social Rights (Social Pillar) and in view of the European Commission’s reflection process on future of the Social Dimension of Europe. Similarly, target 8.8 of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) on safe and secure working environments for all workers, and target 3.4 on promoting mental health and well-being lay the foundations for integrating mental health prevention and early intervention in OSH strategies.

The EUMH Alliance urges the EU and Member States to honour their commitments under the SDGs and the Social Pillar starting from ensuring that employers better implement the OSH Framework Directive and adequately include mental health in OSH strategies. Mental health promotion and wellbeing, safe, secure and predictable working environments for all workers, including the young ones, are crucial aspect for better societies and nurturing environments.


World Mental Health Day: Wellbeing in the workplace is an asset

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World Mental Health Day: Wellbeing in the workplace is an asset

Brussels, 12th October 2017 – Mental health at work should be considered as an asset rather than a risk, concluded experts at an event marking World Mental Health Day yesterday. The meeting highlighted that there is a clear need for enhanced dialogue between employees and organisations, better support to help managers implement existing guidelines, and a reduction in stigma around mental health in the workplace.

The event ‘Mental health in the workplace’ was organised by the European Alliance for Mental Health – Employment & Work, the European Committee of the Regions Interregional Group on Mental Health and Wellbeing and its Secretariat EUREGHA

Over one hundred participants attended a conference which, as emphasised in the opening by Nicoline Tamsma, EuroHealthNet’s President, encouraged open dialogue on how to promote mentally healthy workplaces between employees, employers, users of mental health services, and human resource specialists. “It is a matter of language: we need to detoxify the term mental health. Mental health is not mental ill health, we need to promote positive language around mental health at work and beyond” said Bob Grove, Mental Health Europe’s Senior Policy Advisor.

According to EU-OSHA, in the European Union alone, work-related ill-health and injury costs €476 billion every year, which could be saved with the right occupational safety and health strategies and used for promoting wellbeing and positive mental health. As Brenda O’Brien from EU-OSHA explained “the main reason for companies to address health and safety is to be compliant with the law, it is not about altruism”. Harmonisation of minimum occupational health and safety standards throughout Europe is needed, as well as a better understanding of why it is beneficial to invest in mental wellbeing at work. There remains a lack of understanding and implementation of existing legislation on mental health in the workplace, and participants recommended more and better guidelines on how to interpret existing requirements.

It became clear from the exchanges that mental health promotion and prevention in the workplace is mainly about organisational and structural changes, and most importantly about relationships and language. Stigma and self-stigma also have a huge role to play in promoting mental health-friendly workplaces. “For most people experiencing mental ill health, the stigma attached to it is even worse than the mental health problem itself” explained Anita Hubner, Mental Health Ambassador.

It is essential for organisations to invest in line managers’ capacity building by providing the tools on how to talk about mental health in the workplace and to adopt an integrated approach to physical and psychosocial risk factors when managing employee absence. As Professor Stephan Bevan from the Institute of Employment Studies put it “Do not over medicalise [employee] absence: the job content and relationship at work matter too!”

Discussions also emphasised the need to approach mental health at work through a public health perspective. This would benefit employees, employers, and society and would also raise awareness about the importance of risk assessment measures to mitigate against psychosocial risks at work.  “Mental health starts before work. We do not leave our mental health at the door when entering work in the morning” explained David McDaid from the London Schools of Economics.

Participants concluded that mental health promotion in the workplace should be wellbeing-focused and encourage employee participation in the process. Healthy workplaces are about mentally healthy relationships and coherent organisational structures.



Mental Health Europe’s new video on the right to work

Mental Health Europe has recently launched a new animated video on Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) on the right to work.

Article 27 of the UN CRPD recognises that every person with a disability including people with psychosocial disabilities have the right to work like everyone else and should never be discriminated against. It hopes to ensure that people with psychosocial disabilities can find and keep quality employment through support in their job search and in the workplace.

Watch the video to find answers to the following questions: What is the UN CRPD? What is Art. 27 about ? What is the right to work? What is a psychosocial disability? What is reasonable accommodation? 


Register now: EUMH Alliance Event -World Mental Health Day 2017

Mental health promotion in the workplace –
A multi stakeholder dialogue”

Wednesday 11th October 2017 | 09:00 -16:30 |
Mundo-B, Rue d’Edimbourg 26, 1050 Brussels | Conference room |

The European Alliance for Mental Health – Employment & Work , the European Committee of the Regions Interregional Group on Health and Wellbeing and EUREGHA are pleased to invite you to the event “Mental health in the workplace – A multi stakeholder dialogue” which will take place in Brussels on the 11th October.

The conference will explore mental health prevention and promotion in the workplace and will showcase promising practices from both the public and private sectors. This event aims to foster dialogue between relevant actors on how to make positive mental health a reality in all workplaces.

Addressing mental health in workplace settings means preventing psychosocial workplace risks, promoting resilience and wellbeing, enabling early detection of poor mental health, supporting rehabilitation of workers facing mental ill health, and reducing stigma.

In this event participants will: 
  • Discuss the impact of mental ill health on productivity, economic growth and social inclusion
  • Explore the social determinants of mental health
  • Understand how to identify and address psychosocial risk factors in the workplace
  • Determine how to ensure good multi-stakeholder cooperation
  • Learn from promising practices in Europe

Who should join: 

  • Mental health service users
  • Occupational Health and Safety professionals and support workers
  • Health and mental health professionals
  • Human resources
  • Policy makers
  • Representatives from NGOs and other organisations
  • Trade unions
  • Employees, employers and front-line managers

If would like to join us, please click below to download the agenda and fill in the registration form. Please note that places are limited. Your registration will be confirmed only if you receive a confirmation email in the coming weeks.



World Health Day Depression: the biggest barrier to workplace well-being


Brussels, 7th April 2017

On World Health Day 2017, the European Alliance for Mental Health Employment and Work (EUMH Alliance) calls for better mental health promotion and prevention at work. The Alliance believes that investing in mental-health promotion, prevention of and recovery from mental health problems, and stigma reduction at work is key to fair, healthy and growing societies.

Depression is a challenge for people experiencing it and those close to them, but is also a puzzle for European health systems and labour markets. Depression is common, with one in seven people likely to experience it, and carries significant personal, societal, and economic costs. Work-related depression costs across EU Member States represented nearly €620 billion in 2012, including employee absenteeism and lost economic output[1]. To build strong, fair economies and resilient workplaces, action on mental health in the workplace is urgently needed.

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems in Europe and worldwide, and accounts for up to 50% of long-term instances of sick leave and disability. Up to 70% of people with depression do not seek help and support and less than half receive treatment. Therefore, the EUMH Alliance is pleased to see that the World Health Organization recognises depression as a major public health concern.

Addressing depression in workplace settings means preventing psychosocial workplace risks, promoting resilience and wellbeing, enabling early detection of poor mental health, supporting rehabilitation of workers facing mental ill health, and reducing stigma.

There is an important role for all in the workplace. Managers should foster a culture of openness in which employees are supported in times of ill health and returning from sick leave. Co-workers should be aware of the realities of mental ill-health and not be driven by prejudice. Employees must know that, as with physical illness, a welfare safety net exists and can be relied upon. This is particularly important for workers from disadvantaged backgrounds, who often lack tools to increase their own resilience.

The EUMH Alliance recommends a number of steps to support individuals facing mental health difficulties at work and minimise the impact on the labour market, including:

  • Increase organisational training and support for managers to recognise the first signs of depression (and other related mental health difficulties) in employees.
  • Implement anti-stigma campaigns in the workplace.
  • Ensure targeted mental health promotion across work levels, so that people from different socioeconomic backgrounds can profit from enhanced well-being.
  • Establish mechanisms which support those who need time off before returning to work.
  • Increase engagement between employers, policy-makers, and advocates to find solutions that empower workers and benefit employers.

[1] Matrix Insights, 2012


EuroHealthNet calls for new EU Commission occupational health and safety plan to include mental health and wellbeing improvements



Following the European Commission’s announced proposals for an action plan to improve EU rules concerning health and safety for people at work, member of the EUMH Alliance EuroHealthNet has called for physical and mental well being of workers to be included in occupational health and safety measures, stressing the important link between physical and mental health.

EuroHealthNet emphasized  the importance of health promotion at work, and in particular the prevention of mental ill health. The challenge for the European Commission is to consider how the changing nature of work is influencing health and well-being, and what impact this has on productivity and economic growth.

  • Read more EuroHealthNet’s  response to the announcement HERE