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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Health Care Quality Indicators - Mental Health Care 

The burden of mental illness is substantial. It has been estimated that mental and behavioural disorders accounted for 7.4% of healthy years lost due to disability worldwide in 2010. Mental health care is a policy priority in many OECD Member states as the burden attributable for this group of disease is growing. The HCQI project has identified mental health care as a priority area for further quality of care indicator development, to build on the existing indicators relating to health workforce (e.g. psychiatrists) and health status (e.g. suicide).

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Education and Social Progress

This project is about better understanding how to prepare individuals for tomorrow's world; a world that can be prosperous yet challenging, unpredictable and uncertain. Those empowered can better maneuver in a highly dynamic and skill-driven labour market. They are more capable of preventing physical and mental illness by following healthy lifestyles and interpersonal relationships. They are more likely to weather the storms of life such as victimisation, hospitalisation and family disintegration through forward-looking, coping strategies. Such individuals can contribute to a cohesive society.

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In the Health Division:
Ms. Emily Hewlett (

In the Employment Analysis and Policy Division:
Mr. Christopher Prinz (

In the Education Directorate (Innovation and Measuring Progress Division):
Mr. Koji Miyamoto (


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