Mental Health in the Workplace

The project “Mental Health in the Workplace – psyGA”

The mental health of employees is an increasingly important issue for companies. Because in recent years, both the days of illness and the number of Frühberentungen due to mental illness have risen sharply. Despite sound health-promoting know-how, the number of companies that not only recognize the potential of workplace health promotion and prevention strategies but also profit for employees and their own ability to compete and innovate remains very limited implement appropriate measures.
Against this background, the psyGA project aims to sensitize company and inter-company decision- makers as well as important multipliers for the topic and to raise their awareness of the topic.

What is stressed here?

Media speak of “burnout as a widespread disease of the 21st century”, scientists see an “age of depression”. The fact is that many people in Germany suffer from mental illness – with considerable consequences for companies, public administration organizations and, of course, for the people affected and their families. Stress and mental illness – numbers, dates, facts    

For decades, the number of days lost due to mental illness has increased – most recently between 2001 and 2010, from nationwide 33.6 million days off work to 53.5 million. In contrast to the declining days of sick leave in the private sector, the sick leave in public administration is rising steadily. In 2011, employees had an average of 18.1 working days a year, compared to only 17.0 days in 2010 (BKK Health Report 2012).

The continuous increase in mental illness observed in recent years continues. In 2011, with over 14 percent of all illnesses, these were already the second most common disease group (BKK Health Report 2012). In the public administration, mental illnesses are particularly frequent: According to the DAK health report, they caused 269.3 work accidents per 100 years of insurances days, while on average across all industries, only 203.5 AU days. Thus, the sick leave in public administration is one third above the average. From 2000 to 2011, their share rose from 24.2 percent to 41.4 percent (“Safety and Health at Work”, BAuA, 2011).

The result is billions of euros in costs: the direct medical expenses for mental illness alone amount to almost 27 billion euros per year (Federal Statistical Office, 2009). According to calculations, they could grow to around 32 billion euros by 2030. This includes an even greater share of indirect costs, caused by reduced productivity during the working years and early retirement.

Work stress can cost employees and employees: Why organizations have to act Healthy employees are important for maintaining the performance of the public service. When they fail, not only is working time lost. The costs also rise. Only those who are healthy and comfortable feel capable. Stressed employees are proven to make more mistakes and are often less productive. They are also more susceptible to infections and more often suffer from long-term consequences such as migraine, sleep disorders or cardiovascular diseases.

 Success factors:

Stress management and prevention

It is worthwhile to promote the health of employees. Your tasks as a manager therefore include reducing unnecessary burdens and enabling employees to achieve a balanced work-life balance. It pays to adequately support workers who show signs of stress or over-symptom symptoms. Because stress and excessive demands can also be detrimental in the competition for qualified specialists. Last but not least, public administration organizations that focus on the health promotion of their employees are attractive employers.

It does not always have to be the “giant program.” Often, even small changes and measures in the context of company health management are enough to maintain employees’ long-term health – as well as the mental balance.

The stress and its consequences: How does stress make you sick?

 In the alarm state: What happens in case of overload in the body

In the case of stress, the human body tries to adapt as quickly as possible to the stressful situation. First, the brain releases certain messengers. As a result, the adrenal glands boost the production of the stress hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. Once they get into the bloodstream, they prepare the body biologically for an impending escape or fight – evolutionsbiolo a survival strategy. Then the heart beats faster, blood pressure and blood sugar levels rise, energy reserves are mobilized, the digestion slows down and the blood clotting factor increases. All functions
that are not necessary for survival, the body temporarily shuts down. Once the Alarmzu¬stand is over, the hormone level automatically decreases again, without the negative consequences for the body.

The exhaustion spiral: Constant stress damages the health

Short-term stress reactions can have an activating effect. However, if new stress stimuli are added or if the pressure continues to work without man being able to recover in between, the body switches to continuous alarm. This is often the case in today’s daily work routine with numerous work interruptions and constant accessibility. The stress reactions are then directed against one’s own organism – with sometimes harmful consequences. In the long term, large amounts of stress hormones in the blood, for example, weaken the immune system and increase the risk of developing a mental disorder. New findings from neurobiology also testify that chronic stress alters the activity of certain genes in the brain.

As a result, cells stunt or are no longer new forms. The result: concentration and deficits up to depression.