Mental health in the world of digital work – Estrella Dora Ferrandes and Alba Huertas Ruiz

a JThe level of well-being rises invisibly in the digital economy. As with the coronavirus, Europe needs to get it under control.

Mental health, psychosocial, digital, platform, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, algorithm, work, workplace
The lack of clear boundaries in the digital economy brings additional pressures to working life (FamVeld /

Covid-19 brought In the foreground Another kind of “pandemic”, years in the making, regarding My mind Community health in Europe. It already represents an unprecedented crisis, directly related to the growing danger and instability in the labor market and the digitization of the global economy.

according to Eurofound, 20 per cent of jobs in Europe were ‘poor quality’ in 2017, putting workers’ physical and mental health at risk. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Highlights Financial uncertainty and labor insecurity are the biggest risks associated with poor mental health – noting that investing in good jobs and long-term contracts are key to ensuring quality Psychological health.

The recent rise in inflation rates internationally and the consequent rise in the cost of living have reduced the purchasing power of the entire population. This, in turn, increases the need to invest in decent jobs, to stem the spread of psychosocial risks of mental illness.

The spread of digitization has added fuel to the fire. New technologies, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI) systems are changing not only our personal lives but also the nature and organization of work, with serious consequences for the mental health of workers.


Mass controlLack of clarity and transparency in professional relationships, isolation, excessive contactincrease in work hours or violation of privacy rights, all stem from digitalization and increase psychosocial risks in the workplace, with negative mental health implications. To avoid abuse and increased disease from disorders such as anxiety, depression or “exhaustion,” we must ensure that digital becomes synonymous with improvement and progress – not burdensome demands and instability.

arbitrary algorithms

My friends come for dinner. I order food through a mobile app. Arrival of the delivery person by bicycle. I receive my order and rate the service driver. This is an example of how the platform works. The worker, who is most likely declared to be a fake “independent employer”, He does not have insurance or the right to receive social benefits in the future. His work is regulated by an algorithm that determines working conditions.

The digital platform economy is an increasingly popular business model that embodies the necessity to regulate digitization and artificial intelligence systems in the workplace, to protect workers and ensure decent health and safety standards. legislation must require That digital algorithms are used ethically and transparently, ensuring human oversight to avoid arbitrary or discriminatory decisions. A European directive on the platform’s work, in preparation, should highlight these gray areas.

In recent years, other measures have been gradually adopted in Europe, although not mandatory. The new Strategic Framework for Health and Security (2021-2027), for example, mentions problems that affect mental health but does not prove Binding measures to resolve it.

new directions

In July, for the first time, the European Parliament adopted The decision, which included numerous calls for the European Commission to launch new directives. The most ambitious was the claim to regulate the use of AI in workplaces, given how invasive algorithms and other AI systems can be if not used properly.

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Legislation to prevent psychosocial risks, to regulate “telework” and to recognize mental health disorders as occupational diseases – to ensure adequate compensation – were also key elements included in the report, to protect the mental health of workers in an scalable digital world of work and to ensure their reintegration into the labor market after illness . Many who have He suffers from a work-related mental illness and they find it difficult to do so. This raises the costs of social security systems, long-term unemployment rates, and the risk of social exclusion and poverty in the medium to long term.

Mental health has always been secondary. However, work-related psychological disorders are increasing and, while invisible, affect not only the health of workers, but society as a whole. It is estimated that mental illness costs more than 4 per cent of GDP in the EU, within which 1.6 per cent (€240 billion per year) is associated with indirect labor market costs such as absenteeism and ‘attendance’ (work) . during illness). Data shows that more than half of working days are lost in the European Union because of Work stress.

A progressive digital economy cannot be built on the foundations of labor exploitation, precarious working conditions, and sick, unprotected workers. Europe requires legislative tools to make a sustainable transition to well-being and social justice for all of its citizens.

A Spanish version of this article was originally published in On the first of September

Estrella Dora Ferrandis is a member of the European Parliament, of the Spanish Socialist delegation, and of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.

Alba Huertas Ruiz is a political advisor to the Spanish Socialist delegation to the European Parliament.

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