Study links decent pay to workers’ mental health
Mental health, decent pay and business engagement are the central themes of a study published in GV-Executive, written by Professor Mário Spinelli of Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Sao Paulo School of Business Administration (FGV EAESP). The article presents factors that indicate the importance of engaging the business community with the issue of paying workers a living wage and promoting mental health.
The paper, called “Decent Pay and Mental Health: Why Businesses Should Engage,” notes that many studies have demonstrated that some workers are not paid a living wage. It also says that mental disorders have become more prevalent due to financial issues.
Spinelli urges companies to take action in this area. He believes that workers ought to have access to well-being initiatives and he notes that some workers are not paid enough to allow them to build up an emergency fund.
The aforementioned issues are the most pressing concerns of the UN Global Compact Brazilian Network’s Decent Pay Movement. This movement is working to form a coalition of companies that are committed to paying their workers a living wage and carrying out a series of mental health initiatives by 2030.
In his paper, Professor Spinelli also takes a close look at this topic. The author highlights factors such as overwork, inflexible working hours, bullying and the risk of unemployment as triggers for potential disorders. He also points to an increase in the number of suicides in 54 countries after the 2008 economic crisis: there were 4,800 more deaths than would have been expected based on the average rate in previous years.
When workers are not paid enough to meet their family’s needs, anxiety and depression become even more frequent. The article notes that according to the World Health Organization, Brazil has more people with anxiety disorder than any other country. This is directly related to recent World Bank data indicating that Brazil is in the world’s top 10 countries in terms of income inequality.
Thinking about the connection between a living wage and mental health, the study provokes reflection by showing how companies can reduce poverty and social inequality, taking on a role that used to be restricted to the public authorities.
Spinelli sought to present sufficient evidence to demonstrate the importance of business sector engagement in paying enough to meet the needs of workers and their families.
“Companies need to encourage continuous discussions on this issue, promote the development of action plans to build a healthy and productive work environment, offer specialized support for counseling and assistance to workers, organize campaigns to reduce stigma and prejudice regarding mental disorders, and promote actions to improve the quality of psychosocial health,” Spinelli says.
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