A Healthy Workforce
Working within the United Nations system can provide us with a strong sense of purpose and opportunities for helping others. It can also be challenging.
In 2015, over 17,000 United Nations staff members across 11 United Nations entities completed the Global Well-Being survey. Approximately half of all United Nations staff members reported experiencing symptoms consistent with a mental health condition. This is greater than what is seen in the general population and staff who had worked at the UN longest were more likely to experience poor mental health.
Doing our work well requires all of us to be giving the best of ourselves, while taking the best care we can of our colleagues, our families, the Organization and ourselves.
What are we doing
The five-year United Nations workplace mental health strategy aims to:
1. Create a workplace that enhances mental and physical health and wellbeing
2. Develop, deliver and evaluate high-quality psychosocial services everywhere that UN staff work
3. Welcome and support staff who live with mental health challenges
4. Ensure sustainable funding for mental health and wellbeing services
It also aims to strengthen our individual knowledge, skills and behaviour with regard to:
- Taking care of others – colleagues, family and friends
- Taking care of our own mental health
- Taking care of the people who look after the health of others
- Seeking help earlier, to obtain access to a range of evidence-based psychosocial support and interventions
The UN Workplace Mental Health and Well-being Strategy is led by a global governance body, the Implementation Board. The Implementation Board has representatives from UN System Organizations and key bodies such as Staff Federations and Representative Organizations, Medical Directors and Staff Counsellor Organizations. Achieving the goals of the strategy will require a sustained, collective effort over the coming five years. We all have a role to play to ensure we have a healthy workforce for a better world.
Where to go for support
There are currently there are 131 counsellors employed in the UN agencies, funds and programmes. They deliver psychosocial and mental health services to staff and run psychosocial promotion and prevention programmes within the organisations they are working for. Staff/Stress Counsellors are distributed across 45 countries and in 58 different duty stations.
The UN Medical Services and Office of the Ombudsman and Mediation Services (UNOMS) also provide key elements of overall services to staff seeking advice, resolution of workplace difficulties, treatment, and support for mental health concerns. UN Medical Services has a key role in the medical, physical and psychological care of personnel in return to work programmes for those experiencing mental health problems.
To find help or talk to someone, please check the list of UN System Counsellors List.
Launch of the UN System Workplace Mental
- UN Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy (English / French)
- Summary document of the UN Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy
- Staff Well-Being Survey Data Report (English / French)
- "One-Thing" Mental Health and Well-Being Poster (Version 1 / Version 2)
- Mental Health in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- Mental Health and Development, DESA Division for Inclusive Social Development
- Building Back Better: Sustainable mental health care after emergencies (WHO)
- Policy options on mental health: WHO-Gulbenkian Mental Health Platform collaboration
- From the Field: facing up to the extreme mental health pressure of conflict (UNHCR Awake at Night podcast)
- Mental health 'neglected issue' but key to achieving Global Goals, says UN chiefs
- Creating a healthy workplace improves mental well-being and productivity - UN
- Mental health included in the UN Sustainable Development Goals