June 3, 2015

An open mind on mental health

Fit mind, fit job. From Evidence to Practice in Mental Health and Work

The social and economic impact of mental illness requires a new approach. Conventional approaches to the disease are insufficient and a broad involvement of different stakeholders is needed. These are the premises that the OECD has drawn in its new report "Fit mind, job fit. From evidence to practice in mental health and work. " While in previous reports had tried to characterize the state of affairs, now he has been concerned to review successful strategies in different countries.
The total costs of mental illness represent around 3.5% of GDP in European countries. Of this, more than half corresponds to indirect and intangible costs. Among them are productivity losses, an aspect difficult to estimate because the phenomenon of "presenteeism" appears. In the case of mental illness, the fact of going to work despite illness is the rule (over 75%) .
The issue presents differential considerations for other diseases, especially its relationship with the job and productivity. There is evidence of less satisfaction, lower quality jobs and lower pay. All contribute to conditions of work under a mental illness represent a tension for the individual and for the company. And of course in the event of unemployment, even more.
Ssome countries have tried to deal with this situation from an interdisciplinary way. That is, strictly avoiding medicalized view of health policy and trying to involve the various actors in the field of business and social environment of the patient.
The OECD recommendations fall into four areas: youth and education, business, social services and employment and healthcare. Of these, I would like to highlight here those related to the firm, being the most neglected at present.
In the field of business, strategies for supporting employees with mental health problems are crucial to achieve a positive development that avoids the end a loss of jobs and a worsening of the disease. The initial issue to consider is the detection of the problem. Somehow, managers and immediate supervisors need to provide a suitable response to the situation and often do not have the knowledge and training needed. The British example known as "Mental Health First Aid program" is a tipping point to keep in mind despite his limited success in small and medium enterprises.
The adoption of risk prevention strategies also seeks to provide tools to improve psychosocial job conditions. To this, a change of perspective in occupational medicine could contribute decisively.In cases of injury, the management of return to work eventually becomes critical for improving the stage of the disease process. To the extent that the long absences are more complex to address, it is precisely these that require attention consistently. The option of gradual return to work and support by colleagues has proven effective in this regard. The search for a negotiated solution brings more satisfactory exit routes for the disease, the conflict. And finally there are the incentive strategies and the legal obligations of employers in this regard. How to address long-term absenteeism it is a challenge in all countries and there is no rècipe for all cases. Must be combined with adequate monitoring incentives to return to the job.The uniqueness of mental illness is that the successful approach is the one that allows redevelopment activities in the labor and social environment properly. To do this, a modern approach requires among other things that the company and its employees are aware of and responsible for a different perspective and fully involved. In this direction, government and business associations should join hands to tackle an issue that so far we thought belonged only to the health system. The relevance of mental health and its impact on the welfare of citizens and their families, requires a timely response.