Increased health awareness and a changed approach to mental illness has led to a slight reduction in the number of days of mental illness.
The increasing number of sick days due to psychological causes is making headlines again and again. After muscular and skeletal disorders, mental illnesses have ranked second to third in the top ten of incapacity for work for years. Depending on how strong the flu wave of the year is, only respiratory diseases are placed before mental illnesses.
Between 2005 and 2015, the number of mentally induced days of incapacity to work more than doubled. The high duration of cases is particularly stressful: on average, a mentally ill person is absent for more than five weeks, according to a 2016 health report.
For the first time, slightly fewer psychologically-related sick days
However, the report nevertheless found that the number of psychologically induced AU days had decreased somewhat for the first time – by minus 6.8 AU (incapacity to work) days per 100 employees. Especially for mental illnesses “this decrease represents a novelty, as there has been only an increase in the last 10 years”. The report assumes that “a health awareness that has grown in recent years, the strengthening and implementation of health promotion, the increasing destigmatisation of mental illnesses and the change in the way those affected deal with their illness” will have a positive effect here.
Mental illnesses leave the taboo zone
From our point of view, there has indeed been a change in the way we deal with mental illness in recent years. Although it is still easier for people to say that they have the flu or back pain, most people are no longer ashamed of their mental illness. With more talk, celebrities talking about depression and burnout being considered as common as a herniated disc, it has become easier for people to admit they have mental problems. This is certainly also due to generational change.
Generational change in dealing with stress and psychological problems
The war and post-war generation was directly confronted with many psychologically severely burdened people. But at that time there was no discussion about it, the topic was suppressed, people wanted to go on with their lives and hoped that they could leave the experiences behind successfully if they kept quiet about them. Today’s generation has learned to talk about their feelings, the whole wellness area with yoga, autogenic training and meditation is focused on the harmony of body and soul.
Stress and Burnout Prevention in Companies Supports Mental Health
At the same time, the stress load has increased compared to earlier times. The main factors here are increased demands and expectations in professional and private life, multiple workloads for working women, sometimes long distances to the workplace and multimedia influences. Consequently, stress and burnout prevention has also found its way into companies. The at least slight downward trend in mental illnesses confirms that companies that use instruments for stress and burnout prevention can do a lot to prevent or at least reduce sick days.