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25/11/2010 - Submitted by: Boussios Tilia

The high level conference on ‘Investing in wellbeing at work: addressing psychosocial risks at times of change’ addressed an economic phenomenon that is having a profound impact on mental health. Economic restructuring – the process whereby enterprises change size and structure – can leads to changes in working conditions, redeployment, work flexibilisation and unemployment. These in turn results in poorer mental health. The conference also saw the launch of the EU report on psychosocial risks and health effects of restructuring. It points to the need to integrate employee health concerns into restructuring processes so that the negative impacts on mental health can be avoided or minimised.

However, the evidence presented at the conference shows that enterprises are slow to take on board this concern, though there were some examples of good practice. In part this comes from the failure of traditional approaches to workplace health to recognise the health damaging potential of restructuring processes but it is also a function of a failure to integrate approaches to restructuring from differing perspectives e.g. human resource management, job search, employment services and occupational and public health.

Dr. Richard Wynne from WRC made a presentation at the conference on the ProMenPol toolkit and database and how they might be used to promote and protect mental health during these times of major economic change. There was a good level of interest among the 300 delegates in the ProMenPol products and it can be expected that many of these who were new to ProMenPol will become members of the ENMHP network.

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Dr. Richard Wynne