Monday, December 12, 2011


IWS Documented News Service
Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach
School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies
Cornell University
16 East 34th Street, 4th floor----------------------
Stuart Basefsky
New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau


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Full-text (206 pages) will be available 26 January 2012 via OECD iLIBRARY at

Press Release 12 December 2011]
Employment: mental health issues rising in workplace, says OECD

12/12/2011 - Mental illness is a growing problem in society and is increasingly affecting productivity and well-being in the workplace, according to a new OECD report.
Sick on the Job? Myths and Realities about Mental Health at Work says that one in five workers suffer from a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, and many are struggling to cope.
Three in four workers with a mental disorder report reduced productivity at work, compared to one in four workers without a mental disorder. Work absences are also much more frequent for workers with mental illness, and about 30% to 50% of all new disability benefit claims in OECD countries are now attributed to mental ill health.
The report challenges some of the myths around mental health and concludes that policymakers need to look for new solutions. Most people with a mental disorder work, with employment rates of between 55% to 70%, about 10 to 15 percentage points lower than for people without a disorder.
But people with a mental disorder are two to three times as likely to be unemployed as people with no disorders. This gap represents a major loss to the economy, as well as for the individuals and their families.
Increasing job insecurity and pressure in today’s workplaces could drive a rise in mental health problems in the years ahead, says the OECD. The share of workers exposed to work-related stress, or job strain, has increased in the past decade all across the OECD. And in the current economic climate, more and more people are worried about their job security.
Action and early intervention is key as half of all mental disorders start in adolescence. Young people in many countries increasingly enter the disability benefit system without having spent much time in the workforce. This means that the population claiming disability benefits is getting younger in most countries. Once dependent on such benefit, it becomes difficult to relinquish it.
To help sufferers, a new approach is needed, especially in the workplace, says the OECD. This includes good working conditions which reduce and better manage stress; systematic monitoring of sick leave behaviour; and help to employers to reduce workplace conflicts and avoid unnecessary dismissal caused by mental health problems.
Most common mental disorders can get better, and the employment chances be improved, with adequate treatment. But health systems in most countries are narrowly focused on treating people with severe disorders, such as schizophrenia, who make up only one-fourth of sufferers. Taking more common disorders more seriously would boost the chances for people to stay in, or return to, work. Today, almost 50% of those with a severe mental disorder and over 70% of those with a moderate mental disorder do not receive any treatment for their illness.
For more information, journalists can contact Christopher Prinz (+331.4524.9483), Shruti Singh (+331.4524.1948) or Veerle Miranda (+331.4524.1873) of the OECD’s Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Directorate.
» More information about Sick on the Job at

This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

Stuart Basefsky                  
Director, IWS News Bureau               
Institute for Workplace Studies
Cornell/ILR School                       
16 E. 34th Street, 4th Floor            
New York, NY 10016                       
Telephone: (607) 262-6041              
Fax: (607) 255-9641                      

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