ILO urges EU to prioritise mental health at work

EU members states urged to ratify two fundamental conventions

ILO urges EU to prioritise mental health at work

Members of the European Union are being urged to adopt two fundamental conventions in a bid to promote a safe and healthy working environment amid declining mental health in workplaces.

Joaquim Pintado Nunes, chief of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) branch responsible for labour administration, labour inspection, and occupational safety and health, called on EU member states to adopt the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and the Occupational Safety and Health Convention (No. 155), as well as the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention (No. 187).

Nunes, in a keynote speech in Belgium, said that while a growing number of EU member states are ratifying the conventions separately, only 12 EU members have ratified both.

Both conventions have recently added the right to a safe and healthy working environment, according to the ILO branch chief.

Declining mental health at work

Nunes' remarks came as 15% of working-age adults live with a mental disorder, according to joint research from the ILO and the World Health Organisation.

He noted that new pressures in today's world of work are also exacerbating this issue.

"The world of work is changing at a considerable pace, and new forms of work have exacerbated psychosocial risks and mental health in several ways," he said in his keynote address at the conference on mental health and work in Belgium.

Such pressures include job insecurity, effects of climate change, misinformation, and discrimination, according to Nunes.

Workplaces becoming more virtual have also made employees feel more isolated, he added.

"Easy access to IT has compelled many of us to respond to e-mails around the clock, even though we have a right to disconnect," he said, referencing to Belgium's right-to-disconnect policy.

According to Nunes, the ILO is coordinating with its constituents to prevent mental health risks, protect and promote mental health at work, and support those with mental health conditions in entering the labour market.

Among the efforts implemented by the ILO is its adoption of the Global Strategy on Occupational Safety and Health, which the organisation said has a strong focus on mental health.

"We stand ready to work with the EU to make mental health at work a reality," Nunes said.

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