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07 Aug 2022

European Parliament to vote this afternoon on Report on Mental Health in the Digital World of Work

Authored by MEP Maria Walsh, the report aims to set a gold standard when it comes to mental health and wellness in the European Union

Maria Walsh MEP  to  visit Donegal

Maria Walsh MEP

The European Parliament will today vote on the eagerly awaited Report on Mental Health in the Digital World of Work, authored by Midlands-North-West MEP Maria Walsh. The document will come before a full sitting of the Parliament in Strasbourg this morning, with the Report expected to receive widespread support.  

It is almost 12 months since MEP Walsh was selected to author the Parliament’s first report around mental health, and the west of Ireland MEP is set to use the Report as a springboard to push for a European Year Dedicated to Mental Health for 2023.

This morning, the European Parliament will debate the Report, before votes are cast at 12noon. According to MEP Walsh, it is essential that current EU legislation is updated to respond to the new realities of the digital way of working and to enable companies and countries to facilitate good mental health practices across the board. “With this report we are creating and becoming the gold standard when it comes to mental health and wellness in the European Union,” stressed Walsh. 

Speaking ahead of today’s vote, MEP Walsh noted that increasingly digitalised workplaces and the ability to work anytime and anywhere can create both opportunities and risks for the well-being of workers. This, she believes, has become even more apparent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the health of teleworkers could not be monitored on a day-to-day basis, in contrast to office-based workers.

“Through the digitalisation of our workplaces due to COVID-19, we have seen a huge rise in mental health issues. Cases of burnout, depression, anxiety and fatigue have especially increased among young people. The economic and societal impact that we are facing with mental health if we do not address it now is enormous. It is not only this generation that will suffer from it, it will be the future generations,” Walsh warned.

In bringing the Report before Parliament today, Walsh is calling on the European Commission to create a comprehensive EU mental health strategy and a legislative framework to establish minimum requirements for teleworking across the EU. In addition, she is asking that Member States and the Commission include measures to address mental health in their health crisis and pandemic emergency response and preparedness plans.

“With this report, we are responding to the realities of teleworking and the opportunities it represents, to ensure work-life balance and well-being in the digital area. The report illustrates the benefits and risks of digitalisation that society has experienced over the past two years. It is essential that current EU legislation is updated to respond to the new realities of the digital way of working. We need to ensure that collective EU mental health policies are put in place. The pandemic has resulted in the sharing of best practices between Member States and it is essential that we now use this information collectively at EU level,” she concluded. 

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