Absentee days due to mental illness reach new record levels

Absentee days due to mental illness reach new record levels

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Less sick leave - increased downtime due to mental illness
Stress and high performance expectations are increasing more and more these days. It affects all of us. The number of days off due to mental illness has reached a new high. Overall, however, workers in Germany were less likely to take sick leave last year.

Absenteeism due to mental illness
According to health experts, about one in four people suffers from a mental disorder at some point in their lives. The fact that the increasing work stress and pressure to perform does not leave us without a trace is shown, among other things, by sickness reports. Absenteeism due to mental illness has been increasing for years. According to a recent study by the German Employee Health Insurance Fund (DAK), there have never been so many days off work due to mental illness as in the past year.

New high reached
As reported by the health insurance company, mental health was at its highest in 2016 with around 246 days off per 100 insured.

According to the information, the number of days off work has more than tripled in the past 20 years (1997: 77 days). Women were particularly affected. The DAK reported last year that women were almost twice as likely to be unable to work as men because of depression and other mental illnesses.

The current analysis, for which the Berlin IGES Institute evaluated the data of 2.6 million employed DAK insured persons for 2016, also showed that the overall sickness decreased from 4.1 to 3.9 percent.

Cases of illness last longer
Mental illnesses accounted for 17 percent of total sickness in 2016 - an increase of one percent compared to the previous year.

"While the absenteeism with around 246 days per 100 employees reached an unprecedented high, the proportion of those affected fell slightly compared to the previous year," write the experts in the message.

This means that although fewer people were absent from work due to mental illness, the individual cases of illness lasted longer. According to the information, it was 38 days on average (2015: 35 days).

Most days of absence were attributable to depression with 114.4 per 100 insured, followed by reactions to severe stress and adjustment disorders with 45.5 days. Burn-out stagnated at 4.3 days.

Women were significantly more affected
It was shown that around 60 percent more days off due to mental illness were diagnosed in women than in men (311 to 191 days lost per 100 insured).

For the first time, mental suffering came first in women, followed by musculoskeletal disorders with 308 days absent. As in the previous year, men and women had musculoskeletal disorders with 329 days off per 100 insured.

Overall, more than half of all absenteeism days in 2016 were attributable to three types of illnesses: the first was back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders, with which more than every fifth absenteeism (22 percent) was justified.

Sick leave higher in the east
This was followed by mental illnesses with a 17 percent share of total sickness and runny nose and co. With around 15 percent. The proportion of diseases of the respiratory system was therefore around two percentage points lower than in the previous year because there was no strong wave of colds.

Overall, sick leave lasted an average of 12.9 days last year - 0.8 days longer than in the same period last year. It was also found that the proportion of employees with at least one sick leave was 45 percent as low as it was last ten years ago.

As in 2015, it was shown that the sick leave rate in the eastern states (4.9 percent) was higher than in the west (3.8 percent). This means that 28 percent more days lost were documented in the east than in the west (east: 1,784 days absent per 100 insured / West: 1,390 days absent per 100 insured). (ad)

Author and source information

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