Sick on the Job?

Myths and Realities about Mental Health and Work

image of Sick on the Job?

The costs of mental ill-health for the individuals concerned, 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. Today, between one-third and one-half of all new disability benefit claims are for reasons of mental ill-health, and among young adults that proportion goes up to over 70%.   Indeed, mental ill-health is becoming a key issue for the well-functioning of OECD’s labour markets and social policies and requires a stronger focus on policies addressing mental health and work issues. Despite the 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. Understanding these drivers is critical for the development of more effective policies. This report aims to identify the knowledge gaps and begin to narrow them by reviewing evidence on the main challenges and barriers to better integrating people with mental illness in the world of work.  

English Also available in: French

Education Systems and the Transition to Employment

This chapter addresses a number of key issues concerning the mental health of youth. The early onset of mental disorders – with a median age of onset across all types of illnesses of around 14 years – highlights the importance of prevention and early intervention to avoid that mental health problems affect the development and education of children and adolescents, and consequently their social and professional life as adults. The chapter discusses the potential of the education system in promoting good mental health and preventing mental ill-health, and the challenges for support systems that surround the transition from adolescence to adulthood and into employment. Lack of awareness and non-disclosure are key challenges for better intervention and improved rates of treatment at an early age. Another challenge in many countries is the large and rising flow of young adults onto the disability system, without or with only limited work experience. This underlines the importance of policy intervention that is multidisciplinary and wellco- ordinated across the education, health and labour market sectors.

English Also available in: French

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