Workers conceal mental illnesses



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Many workers with depression or burnout hide their suffering from fear

Mental illnesses such as depression, burnout or anxiety disorders are the third most common reason for absenteeism in the workplace. This was the result of an investigation by the health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit. However, many workers hide their mental health problems out of fear of losing their job or out of shame. Because mental illnesses are still considered taboo.

Many workers go to work despite mental illness
No manager likes to see high absenteeism at work. If these are also due to psychological problems, many workers are afraid for their jobs. "Nobody wants to work with a‘ psycho ’?" Fear many people concerned. That is why some employees drag themselves to work despite their suffering - until they really can no longer and there is a risk of collapse.

Mental illnesses have long played a similar role to physical complaints. According to the DAK Health Report 2013, depression, burnout and other mental illnesses are the third most common cause of absenteeism at work. 13 percent of absenteeism was due to this diagnosis in the first half of 2013. The first two places are for musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain and respiratory disorders such as colds.

However, mental illness is still often considered a taboo. According to the DAK, when the Forsa Institute analyzed data from 2.7 million employed insured persons and surveyed 3,000 men and women, 65 percent of those surveyed found it more uncomfortable to be on sick leave due to mental illness than due to physical complaints. It is difficult for many to confess to suffering. The survey also showed that one in three sufferers would assume that they would have little understanding of their suffering at work if they dropped out. Many sufferers would therefore conceal their psychological problems.

Slow rethinking could destigmatize mental illness
Whether the fear of the reaction of colleagues and superiors is really justified depends on the individual case. The fact is, however, that more and more celebrities are now acknowledging their psychological problems. Catherine Zeta-Jones has made headlines again and again in recent months because the Hollywood actress publicly acknowledged depression. Since the tragic suicide of football professional Robert Enke in 2009, the subject of depression has also been discussed repeatedly in competitive sports. In the meantime, some companies are also offering programs for burnout prevention, so that at least some of the societal rethinking and de-stigmatization of the mentally ill appears to be taking place.

The increasing number of sick leave due to mental illness could also indicate this. "Today, many employees are more likely to be on sick leave with mental illnesses than they would have previously been unable to work with diagnoses such as chronic back pain or stomach problems," explains Frank Meiners, a psychologist with a degree in DAK health. (ag)

Photo credit: Dieter Schütz / pixelio.de

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