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A gendered look at workplace mental health in Chile

April 21, 2016

Chilean and Canadian researchers joined forces to investigate the impacts of paid and unpaid work on the mental health of Chilean workers, paying particular attention to gender issues. The researchers worked to encourage the introduction of policies and practices that promote healthier work environments.

For example, they adapted to the Chilean context a Canadian occupational health tool that identifies risks to mental health in the workplace. Modifications, such as the inclusion of gender dimensions, then helped to improve the Canadian inspection tool.

The project built knowledge and capacity on the relationship between employment conditions and mental health. Researchers held training workshops for workers and union leaders, and produced a range of educational materials and tools. 

Research activities included:

  • Assessing the impact of working conditions on mental health

  • Documenting workplace mental health risks and protective factors

  • Identifying policy best practices that promote healthier workplaces

  • Strengthening the training capacity of research user organizations

  • Raising public awareness in Chile of occupational mental health issues

Providing relevant information and tools

Work can contribute to mental health problems, whether from a poor working environment or the stress of juggling work and family responsibilities that women, in particular, often face. However, as workplace mental health problems increase, traditional health and safety policies and practices are frequently inadequate. Unions and decision-makers responsible for protecting workers’ health often lack the relevant information and tools to help.

This collaboration included researchers from the Centre for Women’s Studies in Chile and the University of Ottawa. The multi-disciplinary team included researchers with expertise in sociology, law, psychology, medicine, and other health sciences. The project trained students and young researchers, and disseminated research findings widely, including to Chilean government and non-government organizations. In both Chile and Canada, this work led to increased attention paid to issues of mental health in the workplace, and specifically to the importance of incorporating gender perspectives.

This project was part of the Teasdale-Corti Global Health Research Partnership Program. From 2005-2013, the Teasdale-Corti program supported 14 teams of researchers from Canada and low- and middle-income countries. Teams developed, tested, and implemented innovative approaches for health and development. The Teasdale-Corti program was inspired by the remarkable work of Canadian surgeon Dr Lucille Teasdale and her husband, Italian pediatrician Dr Piero Corti. IDRC and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research co-funded the project.​

Learn more:

Read project summaries​ of the Teasdale-Corti Global Health Research Partnership Program