OECD Forum Virtual Event: “Working it Out: Mental Health and Employment”

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, depression and anxiety has increased—even doubled in some countries—with young people and those experiencing unemployment or financial difficulties reporting higher rates than the general population. Banner image: Shutterstock/ultramansk

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As part of an OECD Forum series, the virtual event Working it Out: Mental Health & Employment is taking place on 4 November 2021, 14:30—16:00 CET—register now​!

The session will reflect on progress since the 2015 OECD Recommendation on Integrated Mental Health, Skills and Work Policy. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, prevalence of depression and anxiety has increased—even doubled in some countries—with young people and people experiencing unemployment or financial difficulties reporting higher rates of anxiety and depression than the general population.

Mental ill-health—and the higher prevalence of mental ill-health amongst people in disadvantaged circumstances—is nothing new. The OECD has long been highlighting the high economic costs of mental ill-health, and how living with a mental health condition makes it harder to stay or do well in school, to transition from school to higher education or work, to work effectively and productively, and to stay employed. To tackle the high costs of mental ill-health and to help people live, learn and work in the best mental health possible, integrated mental health, skills and work policies are thus critical.

In April of this year, the OECD Forum virtual event Addressing the hidden pandemic: The impact of COVID on Mental Health, delved into the fact that, while the COVID-19 crisis has been a major stress test, it is also an opportunity to effect lasting change and to consider mental health as critical for the health of our societies and our economies.

This new Forum virtual event will coincide with a new OECD publication, Fitter Minds, Fitter Jobs: From Awareness to Change in Integrated Mental Health, Skills and Work Policies, and take stock of how far countries have come in delivering cross-sectoral mental health policy that takes into account the interlinkages of mental health with youth, employment and welfare policy. Participants will reflect on the gaps that still need to be closed, and how decision makers can pave the way for commitments to delivering even greater, faster change in the years to come.

Some of the questions and considerations we wish to address during this conversation include:

  • We know that being in work is good for mental health, but have policies caught up? Has workplace-based support for mental health become more commonplace? Are people experiencing mental health problems now better supported to stay in employment? 
  • Education and skills are critical for a successful employment path. Is school-based support for mental health spreading? Are young people experiencing mental health conditions now supported in completing education and transitioning into the labour market? 
  • Has the COVID-19 crisis made integrated mental health policy even more critical? Momentum seems to have built around the importance of good mental health – what difference will this make for delivering more integrated mental health policy? 
  • Has the shift towards more widespread teleworking helped or hindered mental health, and how can we manage this going forward? How can we avoid a surge in long-term unemployment, which is known to be highly detrimental to mental health? 
  • What are the main obstacles to greater integration in mental health, skills and work policies and practices? In the next six years, what are the main transformations that you would like to see? 

Related Topics

Tackling Covid-19 Health


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Mark Pearson

Deputy Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD

Mark Pearson is Deputy Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Prior to 2014, he was Head of the Health Division where he helped countries to improve their health systems by providing internationally comparable data, state-of-the-art analysis and appropriate policy recommendations on a wide range of health policies. Major current work of the Division is on the economics of preventing obesity; comparisons of the prices of health care goods and services; assessing long-term care policies; trends in health spending; expanding health coverage; co-ordination of care; pay-for-performance; use of evidence in health care; the migration of the health-care workforce; health care quality indicators; measuring health care outcomes, outputs and inputs; and health and ICTs. Key publications resulting from the work he has managed include OECD Health at a Glance and Achieving Better Value for Money in Health Care, as well as The Economics of Prevention: Fit not Fat. Before moving to Paris, he was employed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London, and he has been a consultant for the World Bank, the IMF and the European Commission.