Back Presentation of the PRESME report: report of the expert Commission on the impact of work precariousness on mental health

Presentation of the PRESME report: report of the expert Commission on the impact of work precariousness on mental health

On Friday, March 17, the Second Vice-President of the Spanish Government and Minister of Labor and Social Economy, Yolanda Díaz, together with the Commission of experts coordinated by Prof. Joan Benach, presented the first government-driven report on the effects of work precariousness on mental health: "Precarious work and mental health: knowledge and policies".


Imatge inicial

One of the main objectives of the report was to answer the following fundamental questions: What is work precariousness and how can we measure it? What is the situation, distribution, evolution and causes of work precariousness in Spain? What is the impact of work precariousness on mental health? Which policies should we put in place to reduce precariousness and improve mental health? For the Commission, better data and analysis, better legislation and better policies are necessary in order to reduce work precariousness and improve workers' mental health.

"This report states loud and clear that mental health is related to inequality and reminds us that the impact on mental health is more than double among the most precarious workers and that the worst situations are observed among women, immigrants and young people. We also know that the prevalence of mental health problems is twice as high in unequal societies compared to their more egalitarian counterparts," highlighted the minister during the presentation.

In addition, experts from the Commission highlighted informality, precariousness, decentralized forms of productive organization and the undervaluation of care as causes of mental health deterioration, but also stressed that in stable contracts, issues such as digital disconnection, overtime or unpredictable working hours have a negative impact on mental health.

The coordinator of the Commission, Co-Director of the JHU-UPF Public Policy Center and Director of GREDS-EMCONET research group, Prof. Joan Benach, explained that work precariousness is a very complex phenomenon determined by multiple factors, and is a harmful social determinant of health that generates anxiety and depression. “Spain has a high prevalence of mental health problems, a highly medicalized phenomenon. We are one of the countries in the world that consumes the most tranquilizers and antidepressants. Discomfort, mental suffering or permanent medicalization to endure the working day are today a normalized response, where a large part of the population feels guilty for their suffering without being fully aware of the structural causes of precariousness”, stated Benach during the presentation.


Recommendations of the report

The experts' report makes three general recommendations: to fight against job precariousness and its effects on mental health; to improve social protections and conditions relating to the health and care of workers; and to measure, analyze and evaluate job precariousness and mental health problems.

The report includes several specific measures for meeting these general recommendations, such as promoting a new Labor Code to advance towards decent and sustainable employment that respects the reconciliation of personal and family life through a perspective of co-responsibility, the recognition of care and the promotion of the model of workers’ representation in companies. 

The experts of the commission also advocate strengthening the health system, extending the health approach to all policies, and integrating the different components of occupational health into the national health system.

In order to move forward in the future, the experts recommend deepening a research system that would make it possible to generate and examine indicators of work precariousness and its impact on the mental health of workers, and monitor what they consider to be a "priority political objective".

The Commission, coordinated by Professor Benach, was formed by a team of experts in the fields of public health, occupational health, law, philosophy, sociology and political science, among others. The members of the team were Fernando Alonso, a philosopher and mental health advocate; Diego Álvarez Alonso, a lawyer specialized in labor and social security law; Lucía Artazcoz, a medical doctor and specialist in public health; Edgar Cabanas, a psychologist and researcher; Belén González Callado, a psychiatrist and member of the Madrid Mental Health Association; Nuria Matilla-Santander, an epidemiologist focused on the effects of digital work platforms on occupational health and safety; Carles Muntaner, a medical doctor and professor of nursing and psychiatry; María Gema Quintero Lima, a lawyer specialized in labor and social security law and gender studies; Remedios Zafra, a philosopher and essayist; and Ferran Muntané, a political scientist and public policy researcher at the JHU-UPF Public Policy Center.

The Commission also had the support of an external scientific-social committee formed by national and international experts from different fields: Margarita Alegría, Santiago Álvarez Cantalapiedra, Guy Groux, Adoración Guamán, Yayo Herrero, Jason Hickel, Antonio Izquierdo, Danièle Linhart, Laura Martín, Vickie Mays, Michael Quinlan, Albert Recio, César Rendueles, Rosemary Sokas, Guy Standing, Olga Villasante, Laurent Vogel and Leah Vosko.


The full report can be accessed here: "Precarious work and mental health: knowledge and policies".




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