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Mental Health and Work: Norway

image of Mental Health and Work: Norway

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 Norway is the fourth 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 Norway faces a unique situation whereby a generous welfare system stimulates large-scale labour market exclusion and significant socio-economic inequalities of people with a mental disorder, and hindering better outcomes of its employment and vocational rehabilitation programmes.

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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. This also applies in Norway which has the highest sickness absence incidence and disability benefit caseload in the OECD despite a traditionally strong work-first approach. In view of Norway’s economic performance as well as the high level of spending on health care and education, mental health-related inequalities seem very high. Norwegian policy makers recognise the need for action to prevent people from dropping out of the labour market with a mental illness and help those with a mental disorder in finding jobs. Accordingly, Norway has established a broad range of policies and reforms to tackle the exclusion of people with mental ill-health. These include a national strategy on work and mental health, developed jointly by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour; and the integration of the public employment service, the social insurance and parts of the municipal social assistance into a Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV), thus offering a strong structure for early intervention and co-ordinated support.

English

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