A series of reviews of mental health and work policies in selected OECD countries revealed the challenge of mental health for social and labour market outcomes and policies and the high costs of the continued stigmatisation of mental health for individuals, employers and societies. To better respond to this challenge, in early 2016 health and employment ministers from the 38 OECD countries endorsed a Recommendation of the Council on Integrated Mental Health, Skills, and Work Policy. The Recommendation asked for a holistic mental-health-in-all-policies approach, with particular attention to a timely and integrated delivery of services and the involvement of frontline actors.
Five years later, it is time to assess progress achieved in the policy areas covered by the Recommendation (health policy, youth policy, workplace policy, and welfare policy). This report complements a legal document prepared by the OECD on the implementation of the Recommendation five years after its adoption, and adds quantitative evidence to it as well as considerations about the implications of the experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic on future versions of the Recommendation. Policy is in flux in most countries but much more will have to be done to implement the principles and fulfil the promises of the Recommendation.
The costs of mental ill-health for individuals, employers and society at large are enormous. Mental illness is responsible for a very significant loss of potential labour supply, high rates of unemployment, and a high incidence of sickness absence and reduced productivity at work. In particular, mental illness causes too many young people to leave the labour market, or never really enter it, through early moves onto disability benefit. Despite these very high costs to the individuals and the economy, there is only little awareness about the connection between mental health and work, and the drivers behind the labour market outcomes and the level of inactivity of people with mental ill-health. This series contributes to filling that knowledge gap. It offers both a general overview of the main challenges and barriers to better integrating people with mental illness in the world of work, as well as a close look at the situation in specific OECD countries.