Mental health is supported through proactive measures at workplaces — effective cooperation with occupational healthcare is of key importance

Supporting mental health at work requires that both workplaces and occupational healthcare update their cooperation practices and are willing to learn together. As a result of the Mental Health at Work Programme, a model has now been published where mental wellbeing is promoted through cooperation between workplaces and occupational healthcare by strengthening the resources of work communities.
mental health at work programme
Minna Pihlajamäki

Minna Majuri

Press release by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and MIELI Mental Health Finland, 15 November 2022

A smoothly running daily life and a healthy work environment lay the foundation for good mental health. It is more effective to target the entire work community and to support work ability and mental health proactively than to reactively address the problems of individual employees.  

“Measures must be taken every day to strengthen mental wellbeing and ability to work. Proactive measures taken by individual workplaces to support mental health may also have significant social impacts. Without mental health there is no work ability, and without competent and skilled employees there are no successful workplaces,” says Minister of Social Affairs and Health Hanna Sarkkinen.

The best way to promote mental health at work is to target the measures at the entire work community. We need to strengthen the resources that support mental health and to promote good leadership and good everyday practices so that minor difficulties at work do not become issues affecting mental health. In this work, occupational healthcare is an important development partner.  

“The model for occupational healthcare cooperation that supports mental health focuses on workplaces and concrete actions. It can be used to address the psychosocial strain of work in a more proactive and effective manner and to prevent incapacity for work due to mental health reasons,” says Jaana Vastamäki, Project Manager of the Mental Health at Work Programme.

New model helps increase wellbeing at work

The model for occupational healthcare cooperation, published under the Mental Health at Work Programme, brings together the elements of occupational healthcare cooperation that promote mental health. The model, which is available on the ennenkuin.fi website (English: https://hyvatyo.ttl.fi/en/mindandwork), helps workplaces and occupational healthcare services find ways to develop together, with emphasis on measures that support both mental health and the business activities of workplaces. 

The core idea of the model built by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and MIELI Mental Health Finland is that assessing and identifying mental resources is at least equally important as assessing and identifying stress and risk factors. It is important to engage in genuine development through joint discussions, strengthen competence and prevent problems. 

The model helps not only to assess how effective occupational healthcare cooperation is and to identify areas for development but also to make more effective use of existing good structures and practices. It guides us to identify the needs for mental health support and, based on them, to set objectives and indicators. The model helps to plan and implement activities and to assess whether the objectives were achieved. 

All workplaces can make use of the model, irrespective of their size or field of operation.

Model was developed together with workplaces and occupational healthcare

The model is based on the work done and approaches piloted by over 20 workplaces in collaboration with occupational healthcare and various experts. According to a survey addressed to the workplaces involved, occupational healthcare cooperation now takes better account of mental wellbeing and brings out more clearly the perspective and needs of workplaces. In addition, workplaces have learnt, for example, to identify early signals better than before, and awareness of factors affecting mental wellbeing has increased.  

The model includes examples of how workplaces have made use of occupational healthcare’s expertise in planning and implementing training or campaigns, for example. It also includes an example of low-threshold occupational health review meetings between workplaces and occupational healthcare, and an early support model for workplaces. The model also describes ways of supporting managers so as to facilitate cooperation, improve access to support and give managers more time for their management duties, for example.

Read more about the model

Inquiries

  • Jiri Sironen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, [email protected] 
  • Jaana Vastamäki, Project Manager, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, [email protected], tel. +358 295 516 3468.  (General questions related to the Mental Health at Work Programme)
  • Minna Majuri, Project Manager, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, [email protected], tel. +358 304 743212 (Model for occupational healthcare cooperation supporting mental health)
  • Saija Koskensalmi, Specialist, MIELI Mental Health Finland, [email protected], tel. +358 40 771 2116 (Model for occupational healthcare cooperation supporting mental health)

What is the Mental Health at Work Programme? 

  • The Mental Health at Work Programme is part of the National Mental Health Strategy which aims, among other things, to support mental health in the workplace.  
  • The purpose of the Programme is to make workplaces better equipped to support the mental health of employees, and to manage risk factors for mental health issues. Ensuring that employees remain at work will keep the employment rate at the current level and contribute to achieving the employment rate target set in the Government Programme.  
  • In addition to the model for occupational healthcare cooperation supporting mental health, the Programme has produced a free-of-charge Mental Health Support Toolkit, and it provides information and examples concerning mental health at work.  
  • The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is implementing the Programme in cooperation with the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, MIELI Mental Health Finland, other partners and an extensive stakeholder network. 

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