The number of sick leaves caused by mental health disorders increased by 16 per cent year-on-year in Finland in 2017.
Jenni Blomgren and Annamari Tuulio-Henriksson, researchers at the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela), reveal in a recent blog post that most of the growth is attributable to an increase in depression and anxiety disorders, which was observed in all age groups and particularly in the female population.
“Mental health-based sickness allowance periods have become more common especially among women. They have increased also among men, but the increase has not been as sharp as that among women,” write Blomgren and Tuulio-Henriksson. “Depression and anxiety disorders were the cause of most of the mental health-based sickness allowance periods that began during the monitoring period. Such periods were over two times more common among women than men.”
Sickness leaves caused by eating and sleeping disorders have similarly become more common especially among women, add Blomgren and Tuulio-Henriksson.
“The relatively sharp increase in sick leaves caused by depression, anxiety and sleeping disorders should be taken seriously,” they write, pointing out that also the duration of sick leaves caused by sleeping disorders has grown.
“It is possible that the various changes and growing challenges in the working life, the numerous structural changes affecting our society and the ongoing discussion surrounding them, and the growing global uncertainty is reflected in people’s ability to manage in the working life,” they analyse.
The researchers estimate that the phenomenon may also be attributable to the economic upswing and, more specifically, its impact on the employment situation: “It is possible that the adverse effects of previous unemployment periods on mental health are now manifested in sick leaves.”
Kela’s data on sick leaves encompass leaves granted at the recommendation of a doctor for a minimum of 12 days.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Sami Halinen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi