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Complex ambiguous occupational health problems

HSE statistics show ‘traditional’ health problems such as respiratory, hearing, and skin problems continue to decline, whilst occupational health problems with a less clear biological cause, such as stress and MSDs continue to rise. Projected changes in working patterns, working methods, and occupational sectors suggest that this trend is likely to continue.

A review by the British Occupational Health Research Foundation (BOHRF)* identified that for people already experiencing Common Mental Health Problems (CMHP) there is evidence for the efficacy of brief individual therapies, particularly cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), even via electronic delivery. However, for those experiencing these problems at work there is little evidence as to efficacy and more research is needed. Less is known about the prevention of CMHP’s, or about the key components of CBT. It is unlikely, however that CBT will provide the panacea for such mental health problems.

Managerial and employer practices are key components relating to the onset and remediation of CMHP’s in the workplace. Manager/supervisor training on sickness/absence management should include elements on the identification and support of employers experiencing CMHP’s in the workplace. Especially on reducing the stigma attached to mental health.


* Workplace interventions for people with common mental health problems: Evidence review and recommendations, BOHRF, September 2005.

Updated 2013-03-25