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

The OECD Education and Social Progress (‌‌ESP) project aims at better understanding how education and skills drive individual well-being and societal progress. The main project objectives are:
- To shed light on the power of social and emotional skills such as perseverance, self-esteem and respect for others in driving children’s life success in education, labour market, health, relationships and civic engagement;
- To better understand how school-aged children’s skills progressively develop overtime through investments from families, schools and communities; and,
- To develop recommendations and measurement tools, using the evidence collected, for policy-makers, school administrators, practitioners and parents to help children achieve their full potential, improve their life prospects and contribute to societal progress.

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 ‌‌‌Good mental health throughout life


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):
ESP team (


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