The OECD High-Level Policy Forum on Mental Health and Work took place on Wednesday 4 March 2015 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bezuidenhoutseweg 67, The Hague, Netherlands.

The forum provided a unique opportunity for Ministers of Health and Employment and the key stakeholders to discuss how to design and implement coordinated health and employment policies to support workers with mental ill-health keep and find new quality jobs.

Time to act on mental health

The costs of poor mental health are high: the total cost of mental illness is estimated at around 3.5% of GDP. People with mild to moderate disorders, such as anxiety or depression, are twice as likely to be unemployed. They also run a much higher risk of living in poverty and social marginalisation. The facts are clear: it’s time to act.


Mental ill-health creates significant costs for people, employers and the economy at large by harming well-being, lowering employment, raising benefit dependency and generating substantial productivity losses. 

Notwithstanding these substantial costs, policy action is lagging behind due to widespread stigma and preconceptions. Today both employment and health systems operate in isolation, even though there is a strong business case for better integrated policies and service delivery, with health being a key labour market barrier and work being a key factor in good and faster recovery from mental ill-health. 

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