Loss of work due to mental illness has risen to a new high. In 2022, 301 days of absence per 100 own insured persons were recorded, as the health insurance company DAK reported in its so-called psychoreport. In a ten-year comparison, this means an increase of 48 percent.
Compared to the previous year, the largest increase was among 25 to 29 year olds. The absent days for men in this age group increased by 29 percent. For women, the increase was 24 percent. 20 to 24-year-old women had almost a quarter more absent days than women of the same age in the previous year.
With 118 days of absence per 100 insured persons of all age groups, depression was the most common reason for sick leave. Stress and adjustment disorders came in second at 77 days. Compared to the previous year, these diseases increased by around twelve percent. Chronic fatigue accounted for 34 missed days and anxiety disorders for 23.
The most common cases of sick leave were people from the healthcare sector. Then comes the public administration. The healthcare sector is 44 percent above the average. In general, people who take care of the well-being of other people in their job were psychologically most stressed. Educators, social workers and geriatric nurses are particularly affected. In the latter group, 480 missed days per 100 insured persons were recorded.
"The new high in mental illness is worrying," said DAK CEO Andreas Storm. Stressful phases, including the pandemic, have increased the risk of developing depression for younger people. He called for more attention to be paid to mental health in the workplace.
However, the recent increase is also partly related to the new electronic sick notification. Since August 2022, sick leave reports have been sent from the doctor’s office to the health insurance company and patients no longer have to submit them themselves. As a result, cases are now also appearing in the statistics that had not been recorded in the past because the yellow slips had remained with the insured person.
"In the current statistics, we have 31 percent more sick leave for very short periods," Storm explained. Apparently, there had previously been underreporting for people who had only been ill for a few days in a case.
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