Why Mental Health Matters at Work

LEE Seung-chul Research Fellow, Samsung Economic Research Institute

Korean firms are becoming more aware of employee mental health Workers are increasingly stressed

Treatment for mental illness
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
1580000 1700000 1820000 2000000 2050000 2210000 2310000
Source : Health Insurance Database, National Health Insurance Corporation
OECD suicide rates
  Korea US Japan Germany OECDaverage
1996 13.4 12.1 14.6 14.4 13.4
1998 18.8 11.7 20.4 13.6 13.3
2000 14.1 10.8 19.1 12.8 12.9
2002 18.7 11.3 18.7 12.7 12.4
2004 24.2 11.3 19.1 12.0 12.5
2006 21.5 11.3 19.1 10.7 11.4
2008     19.4 10.3 10.7
2010 31.2        
Source : OECD
Costs from mental illness (2010) Work losses,Other
Work losses 20.664 trillion won Other
Total : 23,5298 trillion won
85.3% 14.7%

SERI analysis based on data from the Ministry of Employment and Labor

Costs from medical care, attempted suicide, and early death

Mental health management systems

Directions in employee mental health in Korea

  1. Job satisfaction
    Strengthen individual responsibility, link work and personal development
  2. Focused management of vulnerable employees
    Expand company childcare facilities for dual income households and provide support for "wild goose" fathers
  3. Reduce stigma for mental illness

Promoting mental health not only improves productivity, it enhances the images of the company

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