Mental Health and Work

2225-7985 (online)
2225-7977 (print)
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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.
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Mental Health and Work: Netherlands

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01 Dec 2014
9789264223301 (PDF) ;9789264223295(print)

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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. This report on the Netherlands is the seventh in a series of reports 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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  • Foreword

    Tackling mental ill-health of the working-age population is becoming a key issue for labour market and social policies in many OECD countries. It is an issue that has been neglected for too long despite creating very high and increasing costs to people and society at large. OECD governments increasingly recognise that policy has a major role to play in improving the employment opportunities for people with mental ill-health, including very young people especially; in helping those employed but struggling in their jobs; and in avoiding long-term sickness and disability caused by a mental disorder.

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  • Executive summary

    Throughout the OECD, mental ill-health is increasingly recognised as a problem for social and labour market policy; a problem that is creating significant costs for people, employers and the economy at large by lowering employment, raising unemployment and generating productivity losses.

  • Assessment and recommendations

    Mental ill-health poses a key labour market and social policy challenge. The total estimated costs of mental ill-health for society are large, reaching 3.3% of GDP in the Netherlands, and are mainly the result of indirect costs through lost employment and reduced performance and productivity rather than direct health care costs. Sickness absence among workers with mental health problems is a big problem in the Netherlands. The percentage of people with moderate or severe mental health problems who are absent from work is 30-50% higher in the Netherlands than in other OECD countries. People with mental health problems frequently end up on disability, unemployment or social assistance benefits, and their share has been rising over time. In 2012, 7.9% of the working-age population received a disability benefit, of which one-third on the grounds of mental ill-health. Among unemployment and social assistance beneficiaries, approximately 30% and 40% report mental disorders, respectively. Finally, people suffering from mental health problems are less likely to be found in employment and face an unemployment rate double the rate of their healthy peers. Nevertheless, the employment rate of people with mental ill-health is higher in the Netherlands than in many other OECD countries, in part because of the widespread use of part-time employment.

  • Mental health and work challenges in the Netherlands

    Building on the findings of the OECD report "Sick on the Job?" this chapter highlights the key challenges that the Netherlands face in the area of mental health and work. It provides an overview of the labour market performance of people with a mental disorder in the Netherlands compared with other OECD countries as well as their dependence on different income replacement benefits. The chapter ends with a discussion of the upcoming policy reforms in the social field which will further devolve government responsibilities to the individual, employers and municipalities.

  • Mental health of Dutch youth and the transition into the labour market

    This chapter assesses the capacity of the Dutch system to support youth with mental health problems to acquire an educational qualification and to successfully transition into the labour market. It first discusses the school services that are available to identify and support youth with mental health problems in education and explains the youth care system. Second, strategies to tackle early school leaving are described. Finally, the transition of youth into the labour market is discussed, including an examination of the services that are provided to support this transition.

  • Working conditions and sickness management in the Netherlands

    This chapter looks at the role of the workplace, which provides an ideal setting for interventions to help people in the workforce deal with mental health problems and retain their jobs. It first describes the link between working conditions and mental ill-health, reduced productivity and sick leave. Then the chapter discusses prevention policies to address psychosocial risks at work as well as sickness management strategies of Dutch companies. The chapter ends with a review of the central role of employers and occupational physicians in case of sickness absence.

  • Employment support in the Netherlands for people out of work

    This chapter looks at the ability of the Dutch public employment service and the municipalities to deal with the high prevalence of mental illness among their clients. It looks successively at the main issues for the key client groups – unemployed people, sickness and disability beneficiaries and social assistance beneficiaries – with a particular focus on the activation support provided to clients with mental ill-health. The chapter also addresses the implications of the major reforms that are being implemented in the Netherlands: the continued shift of responsibilities over sickness management onto employers and the increasing role for municipalities in activating clients with the strongest labour market disadvantages.

  • The role of the Dutch health care sector in improving mental health and work outcomes

    This chapter looks at the role of the mental health care sector in the Netherlands. It assesses the effectiveness of the mental health care sector in providing adequate treatment to people with mental disorders and discusses the new health care reform that has increased responsibilities for general mental health care to alleviate the treatment burden on specialised mental health care. Finally, it reviews the difficulties of integrating mental health care and employment services in the Netherlands due to the segregation of mental health care and occupational health care services.

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