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

EU Commission publishes a guide on health and safety at work

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The European Commission published a practical guide providing an overview of the main obligations and existing tools and resources to help employers applying occupational safety and health rules. The guide addresses a wide range of occupational issues, including the link between physical and mental health. It underlines the importance of healthy work environments and addresses psychosocial risks and factors.

Read the guide HERE