Minds do matter

HISTORY is full of jobs that took an immense physical toll on employees, from miners and construction workers through to those who suffered “phossy jaw” (a destruction of the jawbone) in the match factories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But it is only in the past couple of decades that workers’ mental health has become more widely discussed and understood. The first World Mental Health Day was organised in 1992; the latest was marked on October 10th. Charity campaigns, like “time to change” in Britain, try to remove the stigma associated with mental-health problems.

Those problems are widespread. A recent review of studies in Europe found that 38% of the EU’s population suffers from a mental disorder (on a broad definition, ranging from anxiety to drug dependence) each year. As well as severe distress, this inevitably leads to absenteeism and poor performance. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that mental-health troubles cost the global economy $1trn a year in lost...



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