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Mental Health and Work: Austria

image of Mental Health and Work: Austria

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 Austria is the eighth 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. It concludes that the Austrian system provides good opportunities in principle for improving labour market inclusion of people with mental ill-health but that structural fragmentation of responsibilities limits the means of the federal government to develop coherent health and work policies. Successful structural reform requires including a range of actors responsible for policy implementation to achieve coordination across institutions and better integrated service delivery.

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Assessment and recommendations

Poor mental health costs the Austrian economy dear – 3.6% of GDP through lost labour productivity, increased health care expenditure, and social spending on people temporarily or permanently out of work. While the Austrian labour market is in good shape and was comparatively little affected by the recent economic downturn, at least initially, the mentally unwell underperform in the job market. Their unemployment rate is almost thrice the national average and their employment rates are lower.

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