EuroHealthNet's roundtable on mental health promotion at work: Presentations available

19 May 2015

The roundtable, which took place in Brussels, offered EuroHealthNet members a good insight into the current European legal framework on health and safety at work, as well as an overview of ongoing EU initiatives such as the Joint Action on Mental Health and Wellbeing, the EU Compass and OSHA’s Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress Campaign.

An active exchange on current mental health promotion programmes in different European Member States was facilitated with presentations by EuroHealthNet members from Sweden, Hungary, Belgium, Wales and Norway. The roundtable was opened by EuroHealthNet’s Managing Director, Caroline Costongs, who highlighted the importance of mental health promotion and the link to physical health and their common social determinants. Chris Nas, senior policy advisor at GGZ Nederland, set the scene by addressing the stigma and the consequences of poor mental health. These include, amongst others, absenteeism, unemployment, poverty, and the high costs for the individual and society estimated at up to € 610 billion per year in Europe. He emphasized that investment in mental health promotion would bring great social and economic benefits.

Dr. Jesus Alvarez, Deputy Head of Unit - DG EMPL - Health, Safety and Hygiene at work - presented the legal base and the new framework that put a stronger emphasis on psychosocial factors at work and on disease prevention. Following this, Brenda O’Brien, EU-OSHA, described the world’s biggest occupational health and safety campaign "healthy workplaces manage stress" and the importance of making the business case. In the closing session of the roundtable, participants heard Johannes Parkkonen from the Finnish Association for Mental Health speak about the outcomes of the recent Mental Health in All Policies conference. In his presentation, he emphasized the need for the development of policies across different budgets, as well as tackling the social determinants of mental health. Juergen Scheftlein from DG SANTE closed the roundtable with an overview of the public health case for mental health, in which he presented the need for and the different spending across the EU on, mental health programs. He showed that spending does not often match needs. He emphasized the need for prevention, stating that treatment reduces the burden by only 30%. He also presented the Joint Action on mental health and wellbeing with a closer look at the work package on mental health promotion at work in which he explained that workplaces offer the right setting for prevention. Last but not least, he presented the current Mental Health Compass, which he described as a great monitoring tool on specific mental health issues.

The roundtable was closed by Caroline Costongs who emphasized that legislation is key for protection, prevention and promotion. She highlighted that mental and physical health need to be addressed together instead of treating them as separate entities and called for strong political support and leadership.

EuroHealthNet is setting up a Technical Working Group on Mental Health that aims to strengthen policy developments on mental health and liaise with the EU Mental Health Compass.

The final report of the roundtable is available here.

For more information, contact EuroHealthNet's Managing Director Caroline Costongs;

The presentations held at the roundtable are available below.

  • Jürgen Scheftlein - Unit "Health Programme and Diseases" - Health and Consumers Directorate General - European Commission: Findings from the Joint Action Mental Health and Well-being and the EU Mental Health Compass - Here
  • Irene Prestoy Lie - Norwegian Directorate of Health - The Norwegian Directorate of Health's annual report on measures to reduce social inequalities in health - Here
  • Irene Prestoy Lie - Norwegian Directorate of Health - Approaching Public Mental Health in Norway - Here
  • Chris Nas - GGZ Nederland -Setting the scene - Here
  • Brenda O'Brien - OSHA - The legal base for mental health and the campaign - Here
  • Magdalena Machalska - AEIP - Health affairs advisor- Mental health disorders and its consequences for the employer and social protection schemes - Here
  • Natalia Wege - University of Düsseldorf - The scientific base for healthy work environment - Here
  • Johannes Parkkonen - Finish Association for mental health - News from the mental health in all policies conference -  Here