World Mental Health Day 2022 - World Health Organisation and International Labour Organisation Reports plus erratum

Our ref: HSR/1/9

Head Office Circular: NP/222/22

10th October 2022

To: The Secretary





Dear Colleague,




Two new reports to address workers’ mental health concerns were published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) last week.


The two publications – “WHO Guidelines on mental health at work” and a joint WHO/ILO “Mental Health at work: policy brief” – directly address an issue which has been estimated to cost the global economy in the region of US $1 trillion each year, along with the loss of about 12 billion workdays, driven mainly through lost productivity.


The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – which triggered a 25 per cent increase in general anxiety and depression worldwide – graphically exposed how unprepared governments were in terms of its impact on mental health. It also revealed a chronic global shortage of mental health resources. In 2020, for instance, governments worldwide spent an average of just two per cent of health budgets on mental health, with lower-middle income countries investing less than one per cent.


Perhaps not surprisingly, therefore, the global guidelines on mental health at work published by the WHO last week recommend actions to tackle risks to mental health such as heavy workloads, negative behaviours, and other factors that create distress at work. WHO has also recommended in its report, for the first time, that managers should be trained to help address the issue of stressful work environments and respond to workers who are struggling.


The guidelines also recommend better ways to accommodate the needs of workers with mental health conditions, propose interventions that support their return to work and, for those with severe mental health conditions, provide support facilitating re-entry into paid employment. In addition, the guidelines call for actions aimed at the protection of health, humanitarian and emergency workers.


For its part, the WHO/ILO joint policy brief explains the WHO guidelines in terms of practical strategies for governments, employers and workers and their organizations, in the public and private sectors. The aim is to support the prevention of mental health risks, protect and promote mental health at work, and support those with mental health conditions so they can participate and thrive in the world of work.

To read the WHO document in full, click here

To read the ILO document in full, click here.


Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members. 


Yours sincerely



Michael Lynch

General Secretary