Mental Health Promotion in the Workplace- a WPRO Informal Consultation

November 23, 2015

The workplace as a priority area within the mental health agenda for the World Health Organization (WHO) for over a decade now.  WHO also recognises that mental health problems in the workplaces, apart from affecting individuals, their families and co-workers, have a direct impact on increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, and socioeconomic costs.

This year in in collaboration with Asia-Australia Mental Health (St. Vincent’s Mental Health and University of Melbourne, Department of Psychiatry and Asialink) WHO Western Pacific Regional Office facilitated a 1.5 day consultation workshop with key mental health stakeholders from Philippines, Malaysia, Tonga and Samoa, held 3-4 September in Manila.

The aim of the consultation was to identify the impact and challenges of mental health in the workplace, and to develop strategies to promote workplace mental health in the region.  The consultation workshop explored the regional relevant data and current research on how mental health is influenced by the workplace, and how mental health problems affect workplace.

The definition of what constitutes a mentally healthy workplace for our region was discussed. The group also reviewed the key enablers and barriers at workplaces to promote the mental health of staff or respond to mental health problems among staff.  The workshop examined workplace-specific interventions or strategies designed to promote mental health which have been developed nationally and internationally, and have been proven to be effective. Finally, practical recommendations to implement a mentally healthy workplace in our region were explored.

There is a substantial body of research on the potential benefits of interventions to promote mental health in the workplace, as well as clarifying the socioeconomic and human costs associated with poor mental health in the workplace.  There is a pressing need to consider the stigma of mental health issues in the workplace contributing to alienation, isolation and lack of action. The planned WPRO initiative to strengthen this area will be timely and well received by the region.

1509 Manila group photo                            priority setting