World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The WHO and the ILO Wednesday called for more action to address workplace mental health. They said 12 billion workdays and $1 trillion a year in the global economy are lost due to mental health issues worldwide. Photo courtesy of World Health Organization
Sept. 28 (UPI) -- The World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization Wednesday urged more action to tackle mental health issues at work around the world.
The two U.N. agencies said in a statement that an estimated 12 billion workdays are lost each year to depression and anxiety, costing the global economy nearly $1 trillion.
"It's time to focus on the detrimental effect work can have on our mental health," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "The well-being of the individual is reason enough to act, but poor mental health can also have a debilitating impact on a person's performance and productivity."
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said a safe and healthy working environment is crucial because people spend a large proportion of their lives at work.
"We need to invest to build a culture of prevention around mental health at work, reshape the work environment to stop stigma and social exclusion, and ensure employees with mental health conditions feel protected and supported," Ryder said in a statement.
According to the WHO, an estimated 15% of working-age adults have a mental disorder at any point in time. The U.N. agency has published evidence-based guidelines on organizational interventions, manager and worker training and other employment-related mental health guidelines to "facilitate national and workplace-level actions in the areas of policy development, service planning and delivery in the domains of mental and occupational health."
Those guidelines include actions designed to deal with mental health risks at work, like heavy workloads, negative behaviors and other factors that can create mental distress on the job.
The WHO and the ILO said in their statement that COVID-19 triggered a 25% increase in general anxiety and depression worldwide at a time when governments were unprepared to cope amid a shortage of mental health resources.
A survey in June showed that 42% of Americans who needed mental healthcare in the previous 12 months did not get it due to costs and other barriers.
Another study published in June found that people who got COVID-19 infections were 25% more likely to be diagnosed with a mental health condition in the four months after their infections.