Social policies and data

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. 

Time to act on mental health

The costs of poor mental health are high: the total cost of mental illness is estimated at around 3.5% of GDP. People with mild to moderate disorders, such as anxiety or depression, are twice as likely to be unemployed. They also run a much higher risk of living in poverty and social marginalisation. The facts are clear: it’s time to act.



Whats' new on mental health and work

(4 March 2015, The Hague)‌

The forum will provide a unique opportunity for Ministers of Health and Employment and the key stakeholders to discuss how to design and implement coordinated health and employment policies for supporting workers with mental ill-health keep and find new quality jobs‌.

Logo mental health and work forum

Mental Health and work country reportS

This 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 are being tackled in a number of OECD countries.

Nine countries reports
are published:


Related work and events:

Improving labour market participation of people with mental health problems requires well-integrated policies and services across the education.

The Working Paper  Mental Health and Work: Achieving well-integrated policies and service delivery provides examples of policy initiatives from 10 OECD countries for integrated services and presents outcomes and  strengths and weaknesses of the policy initiatives.

The Mental Health and Work Expert Seminar (17 April 2013) presents where the Mental Health and Work Project stands and  discuss some good practice examples. from the countries that have been reviewed


Further reading


Sick on the Job? Myths and Realities about Mental Health and Work.

One in five people of working age in the OECD area is currently suffering from a mental disorder.

Despite the 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 report aims to identify the knowledge gaps and begin to narrow them by reviewing evidence on the main challenges and barriers to better integrating people with mental illness in the world of work.

  >> See also the OECD work on Mental Health
   Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers

Why is it that health is improving, yet more and more people of working age end up out of the workforce relying on long-term sickness and disability benefits?

>> The report Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers synthesises the findings of the series of countries reports that explores this paradox.



>> The series of country reports looks specifically at the country and highlights the role of institutions and policies. A range of reform recommendations is put forward.


The report Transforming Disability into Ability (2003), provides a systematic analysis of a wide array of labour market and social protection programmes aimed at people with disabilities. It concludes that a promising new disability policy approach should move closer to the philosophy of unemployment programmes, with a focus on activation, tailored early intervention, work incentives and mutual obligations.


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