WHO, ILO global guidelines on mental health

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have jointly issued guidelines to address mental health issues faced by global workforce.

Key facts

  • The guidelines called for addressing the threat to mental health issues among the workforce like high work burden and negative behaviours.
  • Depression and anxiety account for 12 billion lost workdays each year, costing the global economy around 1 trillion USD.
  • 5 per cent of the working-age population had mental illness and only 35 per cent of countries have national programmes focusing on work-related mental health promotion in place.
  • The WHO recommendations called for promoting manager training to avoid stressful work settings and assist distressed employees.
  • The guidelines were issued at a time when there has been an increase in the prevalence of quiet quitting and quiet hustling.
  • Quiet quitting means labourers working within the defined work hours and engaging only in activities within those hours. It also involves doing only those tasks related to their jobs and nothing else.
  • Quiet hustling means taking up additional jobs or side business apart from their primary jobs, causing stress and anxiety.
  • The pandemic has caused a 25 per cent raise in anxiety and despair and it has shown the issue of persistent lack of mental health resources across the world.
  • Across the world, only 2 per cent of government’s health budgets are allocated to mental health in 2020. It is much lower in lower middle income countries, which allocate less than 1 per cent of the budget.
  • Unhealthy work culture can cause broader socio-economic issues like inequality and discrimination, causing adverse effect on mental well-being.
  • One of the most common workplace harassment is bullying or psychological assault.
  • Revealing these issues in the workplace is often frowned upon, discouraging the workforce and the management from combating such issues.
  • The guidelines called for reshaping of working environment that can put an end to this stigma and social exclusion.
  • It also called for improved approaches to meet the needs of workers with mental health disorders and prescribed interventions to promote their return to work.



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