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125 Int'l Lab. Rev. 605 (1986)
Emotional Disorders and the Labour Force - Prevalence, Costs, Prevention and Rehabilitation

handle is hein.journals/intlr125 and id is 619 raw text is: International Labour Review, Vol. 125, No. 5, September-October 1986

Emotional disorders
and the labour force
Prevalence, costs, prevention and rehabilitation
Mary A. JANSEN *
Estimates of the prevalence of emotional disorders among members of
the labour force vary, but it is generally agreed that a high percentage
experience some form of emotional disturbance at some time during their
working lives. It has been reported that between a quarter and two-thirds of
all workplace absences are due to emotional disorders;' in the United States
it has been estimated that the overall annual costs in 1974 exceeded $10,000
million,2 and more recent estimates place the annual cost of lost employment
due to complete emotional disability at $18,500 million.' The full impact on
employees and their families, on co-workers, and the workplace environment
is difficult to assess, but reduced productivity, higher employee turnover and
increased stress for all involved are some of the obvious effects.
The importance of establishing the extent of these disorders among the
labour force and setting up effective preventive and rehabilitative vocational
programmes is obvious when one considers the number of persons affected.
An ILO report has noted that: Mental illness constitutes one of the world's
most critical social and health problems. It affects more human lives and
wastes more human resources than any other disabling condition. 4 The
World Health Organisation has estimated that up to two-fifths of all
disability is related to psychiatric disorders.' It has been estimated that, in the
United States: Three million people suffer severe mental disorder annually.
Of these 2.4 million people become moderately to severely disabled on
account of the disorder. And of these, 1.7 million people suffer prolonged
severe disability; they constitute the chronically mentally ill population. 6
These data give an indication of the magnitude of the problem and
afford a glimpse into the effects of these disorders on workers and their
* Dean for Professional Affairs, California School of Professional Psychology, Fresno,
California. The author wishes to thank George Bailey, Barbara Feuer, Dan Malloy, Larry Mars,
Bob Rosen, Marilyn Schneidermann, Beth Silverman and Paul Widem for assistance with the
preparation of this article.

Copyright © International Labour Organisation 1986

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