Mental health of employees is a major concern in the Baltic Sea Region. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, half of the EU workers considered stress to be common in their workplace, contributing to around half of all lost working days. Combined with a shortage of qualified workforce, this puts the ability of public and private enterprises to withstand crises in jeopardy. To be economically and socially resilient, companies and communities need a mentally resilient workforce.
“The relationship between work and mental health involves two key issues: how mental health impacts the ability to work, and how work impacts mental health and well-being. The concept of work-related mental health has become more nuanced over time, and mental health at work encompasses more than just diagnosed disorders or their absence”, says the OSH EG’s Chair Owe Österbacka.
Mr Österbacka further states, that the employer has a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace, which includes identifying and reducing psychosocial risks. All actors involved, such as employers, employees, and occupational health and safety personnel, have important roles and tasks. Cooperation is essential for identifying and assessing risks, as well as successfully removing or reducing them. To achieve this, there is a growing need for knowledge and tools related to work and mental health issues, enabling all parties to work in a preventive and health-promoting manner.
The Mental Health Matters project, funded through Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme 2021-2027, brings together policymakers, employer and employee representatives, OSH experts and educators to assess the existing policies and practices related to mental health at work. During the project’s course, they will propose measures to better address current and emerging psychosocial risks at work. As a short-term solution, the project will develop a first-aid-kit to support small and medium-sized enterprises in assessing psychosocial risks and taking preventive action.
The project will run for two years from August 2023 until July 2025.
Text: Saara Rissanen, the NDPHS Secretariat, Owe Österbacka, Chair, the OSH EG.