Health policies and data

Mental Health


Mental ill-health is widespread and its impact on people’s achievement in life is substantial. The large costs mental ill-health generates for people, families, workplaces and society as a whole is a major and growing concern for OECD governments in recent years. The OECD is responding to this rising interest with a range of projects looking at (i) mental health care policies and reforms, (ii) the link between mental ill-health and work, (iii) health care quality aspects, and (iv) the impact of education, skills and mental ill-health. 



Mental Health Systems in OECD Countries

Mental disorders account for one of the largest and fastest growing categories of the burden of disease with which health systems must cope, often accounting for a greater burden than cardiovascular disease and cancer. As reliance upon inpatient care reduces – psychiatric inpatient beds are falling across most OECD countries – countries are often struggling to provide appropriate care in the community. Many mild to moderate mental disorders are under diagnosed and untreated, meaning that a significant proportion of the population suffering from mental ill-health remains hidden. The indirect costs of mental ill-health, for example in lost productivity, are significant.

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Mental Health and Work

Tackling mental ill-health of the working-age population is becoming a key issue for labour market and social policies in OECD countries. OECD governments increasingly recognise that policy has a major role to play in keeping people with mental ill-health in employment or bringing those outside of the labour market back to it, and in preventing mental illness.
The new series of reports is looking at how the broader education, health, social and labour market policy challenges identified in Sick on the Job? Myths and Realities about Mental Health and Work (OECD, 2012) are being tackled in a number of OECD countries.

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In the Health Division:
Ms. Emily Hewlett (
Ms. Kate Cornford (


In the Skills and Employability Division:
Mr. Christopher Prinz (


Access the infographics Mental Health Facts and Figures



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