The nature of the workplace continues to change as Europe adapts to the challenges of competing in a global marketplace. Across the European Union there is a trend of increasing absenteeism and early retirement due to mental health problems, particularly stress and depression. The social and economic costs of lost productivity in Europe are substantial. Moreover, the sustainability of social protection systems may be challenged further by increases in the levels of disability benefits paid to people who have left work on grounds of poor mental health. Yet despite these significant consequences, at both national and pan-European levels, decision-makers have been slow to recognise the importance of promoting mental health within the workplace, although recently there have been some positive developments. This paper outlines some of the socio-economic arguments for the promotion of good mental well-being in the labour force and identifies how they link with different national and European policy agendas around four key issues: economic growth and development, the promotion of a high level of public health, sustainability of social welfare systems and social inclusion. The role and activities to promote mental well-being in the workplace undertaken by both national and international organizations in Europe are outlined along with important gaps and challenges that need to be addressed.
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