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Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2003 Feb;15(1):44-53. doi: 10.1034/j.1601-5215.2003.00017.x.

Stress, work and mental health: a global perspective.

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1 University of Maastricht, Maastricht, the Netherlands.
2 International Business and economic Roundtable for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada.



The United Nations, WHO and the World Bank have called the current prevalence rate of neuro-psychiatric disorder approaches of 1 in 4 individuals worldwide and 'unheralded public health crisis'. Rates are driven by an early onset, high impairment and high chronicity of these disorders. Most importantly, detection and treatment rates are low, estimated at les than 10% worldwide resulting in 500 million people underserved. The related economic costs soared in 1999 to 120 billion dollars in Europe and North America, with over 60 billion dollars assigned to stress related disorders. Contributing factors are bio-psycho-social and include rapid social change as well as the time compression of modern life resulting in the experience of increased work-life stress that parallels a decade long intensification of activities in the workplace. Coping with the requirements of the new economy of mental performance has lagged behind at many individual and social levels as we cling to adjustments made during the industrial economy of the last century. A climate of transition, and more recently, terror and fear have stressed the landscape of mental health and work already ravaged by the destructive forces of stigma.


This presentation will examine the other side of prosperity from the point of view of stress in the workplace as two global problems converge at this time in history, the escalation of neuro-psychiatric disorders and the increasing dependence on the mental faculties of the world's citizens. In this paper we also discuss how the international community can work together to help reduce the burden of mental disorders worldwide and sketch the implications for research and policy.


Ultimately the media will need to be enlisted to educate the public on the value of investments in mental health.

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