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Mental Health and Work: Belgium

image of Mental Health and Work: Belgium

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 Belgium is the first 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 Belgium can build on a system with a number of structural strengths that are not yet exploited to the best possible extent.

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Assessment and recommendations

People with mental disorders underperform in the labour market. In Belgium, their employment rates are 15 percentage points lower and their unemployment rates 10 percentage points higher than those of people without mental disorders. Many of those who are employed struggle in their jobs (four in five workers with a mental disorder report reduced performance at work) and disability claims based on mental ill-health are frequent and rising. About one third of the 260 000 disability insurance beneficiaries and a significant proportion of the 160 000 disability allowance beneficiaries have a mental disorder as primary cause for their benefit claim. In sum, the total costs for the society, employers, individuals and their families are large, amounting to an estimated 3.4% of GDP in Belgium.

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