Leadership for Change – Birthing the UN System Workplace Mental Health Strategy

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Presenting Author(s): Dr. Jillann Farmer

Date and time: 22 Mar 2019 from 10:20 to 11:20

Location: Wildrose Salon C  Floor Map


  1. Participants will become familiarized with the UN System Workplace Mental Health Strategy, and its key drivers;
  2. Participants will understand the pathway to complex system change; and
  3. Participants will be able to contextualize the described change within their own sphere of control or influence.

Literature References

  1. https://hr.un.org/sites/hr.un.org/files/Staff%20well-being%20survey%20data%20report_FINAL_2018_ENGLISH_0.pdf
  2. https://hr.un.org/sites/hr.un.org/files/Staff%20well-being%20Survey%20Data%20Report_FINAL_2018_FRENCH_0.pdf
  3. https://hr.un.org/sites/hr.un.org/files/Mental%20Health%20Well%20Being%20Strategy_FINAL_2018_ENGLISH_0.pdf
  4. https://hr.un.org/sites/hr.un.org/files/Mental%20Health%20Well%20Being%20Strategy_FINAL_2018_FRENCH_0.pdf


In 2015, the UN Medical services started a small project to attempt to get a window in the psychological morbidity of a small sampel of its personnel. What started as a completely unresourced "spare time" project to survey a few hundred staff developed to generate responses from more than 20 000 Humanitarian and Peackeeping personnel. The survey results showed high levels of Depression,
Anxiety, PTSD and hazardous drinking, and it also showed an higher rates in personnel employed for longer durations in the UN system.

In response to this, the UN set about generating a strategic response.

This presentation describes taking mental health from something unmentionable, to being a key part of the Secretary Generals agenda both internally and externally. The UN System Mental Health Strategy, called "A healthy workforce for a better world" was launched in October 2018.

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