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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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Linking mental health policy in Austria to other policy fields

Generally speaking, Austria has a differentiated, accessible health system. There are, however, capacity gaps in mental health care. Responsibilities, financing, and service provision are fragmented and centred on inpatient care, making the system costly and inefficient. There are significant regional differences in psychiatric treatment, with serious shortcomings in specialised services for children and adolescents. Mental health rehabilitation is widespread but mostly hospital-based. Despite considerable resources, waiting times for psychotherapy are long. And psychiatric treatment disregards work. This chapter discusses the main problems in Austrian mental health care and examines the system’s potential for improving job retention and returns to work among people with mental health problems.

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