May 20. 2024. 10:28

The Daily

Read the World Today

Spain will include ‘work-related mental health’ in disease surveillance


Spain’s Ministry of Health will include work-related mental health in its national epidemiological surveillance system. Belén González, the coordinator of the initiative, told Euractiv’s partner EFE in an interview that “work is breaking workers”.

According to González, the new program aims to “draw conclusions about the amount of psychological suffering that is occurring in relation to work,” and at the same time “demonstrate (with official tests) that there are mental disorders derived from work.”

To date, stress at work (or what is popularly known as burnout) has not been officially recognised in Spain, as a possible mental disorder.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, globally an estimated 12 billion work days are lost annually due to depression and anxiety.

“Work amplifies wider societal issues that negatively affect mental health, including discrimination and inequality. Bullying and psychological violence (also known as “mobbing”) is a key complaint of workplace harassment, that has a negative impact on mental health,” according to the WHO.

Meanwhile, a report issued in 2016 by the International Labour Organization (ILO) indicated that more than 40 million people are affected by work-related stress within the EU and that the estimated cost of work-related depression in Europe is €617 billion a year.

The registry that Spain wants to implement will form part of the country’s future epidemiological surveillance system, which includes the monitoring of infectious diseases as well as non-communicable diseases.

According to González, the information obtained will make it possible to assess which working conditions are affecting people and which groups are most touched by work-related mental health problems.

In Spain, competencies in health are transferred by the central government to the different regions, which have their own regional public health systems.

A change in work culture

The surveillance will give policymakers a better understanding of what is causing psychological problems, “It will allow us to have a picture of what we already sense, and that is job insecurity affects lower-income migrant women more,” explains González.

“We are going to start to put pressure (on the authorities) so that there is a change within jobs, so that working conditions change, because it is not that we send fragile people to the jobs and then they break, what is happening is that the jobs are breaking the workers,” González warned.

In her view, it is necessary to “change the work culture (and look for a labour model) that does not only prioritise productivity and profits, but one which is centred on the health of the workers.”

Spain’s health minister, Mónica Garcia (of the far-left Más Madrid party), said on Wednesday (17 April): “We know that there is an epidemic of psychological distress, but we also know that this epidemic has its origin in social problems that go beyond the four walls of this Ministry.”

Read more with Euractiv

Kicking inequality out of Europe using football, Latvia and Ukraine are out in front

Kicking inequality out of Europe using football, Latvia and Ukraine are out in front

Tackling gender inequality in Europe isn’t an open goal, but the EU’s TARGET football project provides a structured opportunity to change entrenched narratives. Latvia and Ukraine are out in front.