The incidence of mental health problems is rising globally, viz., about 450 million people suffer from mental health ailments that can retard and hamper an individual's ability to work efficiently.
Sound mental health is essential for effective workforce. Mental health of the employees can be enhanced by proactive mental health intervention programs at the workplace. Worksite interventions help employees in mitigating health risks and to alleviate quality of life.
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Heleen H Hamberg-van Reenen, from Centre for Public Health Forecasting, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, The Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a research to assess the role of workplace mental health interventions and to find out the cost effectiveness of mental health intervention programs at workplace. The review has been published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal.
The researchers reviewed economic evaluations and categorized them in two broad groups depending upon intervention types:
1. Those concerned with treatment and prevention of workers' mental health issues; and
2. Those concerned with restoring back the normal work routine of the workers.
The scientists said that the employers should promote the employees mental health intervention programs. Owing to lost productivity and high medical consumption, mental health interventions become expensive. In developed nations, the average cost of mental health problems have been expected to be between 3 percent and 4 percent of the Gross National Product.
Various types of interventions are available for workers suffering from mental ailment ranging from counseling through general practitioner to group interventions, to cognitive behavioral therapy to medications.†
The active interventions ensure better return to work (RTW) for people suffering from mental health.
Primary preventive interventions aim at the betterment of the mental health of the entire workforce and secondary preventive interventions are intended for the wellness of the high-risk patients in order to prevent sick leave and to lower mental health ailments.†††
Besides the usefulness of workplace interventions in encouraging mental health, it is also imperative to understand whether the entire investment process is cost-effective or cost-friendly in improving the quality of life of the employees.
The researchers said that 'since there was no systematic overview of economic evaluations on worksite mental health interventions', the sole purpose of the study was to provide an overview of the 'evidence on the cost-effectiveness (CE) and financial return of interventions' for facilitating workers' proper return to work after being cured from the mental illness.†
Owing to low methodological quality and lack of proper evidences, the researchers could infer only tentative conclusions from the systemic review.† But they did find that 'worksite interventions to prevent or treat mental health problems might be cost-effective, while those RTW interventions that included a full economic evaluation aimed at depressed employees do not seem to be cost-beneficial'.
Economic evaluations of high quality are required to acquire an insight in the financial usefulness of mental health interventions at workplace.†
Worksite Mental Health Interventions; Heleen H Hamberg van Reenen et al; Occup Environ Med. 2012;69(11):837-845. BMJ Publishing Group