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In May 2004 the World Health Organization (WHO European Region) called a consultation meeting of its Collaborating Centres in Occupational Health to discuss mental health in the workplace. The meeting took place in Copenhagen. This paper presents an interpretation of the discussion that took place and the thinking that developed as a result. It was argued that increased interest and research and improved practice in the area of occupational mental health are required to promote good mental health in the European population. A framework of risk management and prevention based on sound evidence and good understanding could provide the basis for the translation of existing research knowledge into effective practice.