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  YourHealth > Health@Work  << Previous|Next >>

IT revolution adds to workplace stress

One in 10 office workers in Britain, the United States, Germany, Finland and Poland suffers from depression, anxiety, stress or burnout, an International Labor Organization (ILO) survey showed on Tuesday.

Information glut resulting from technological advances, the pace of globalization, dysfunctional office politics, overwork and job insecurity after a decade of downsizing are the main contributors to workplace stress, the survey found.

Depression in the workplace is now the second most disabling illness for workers after heart disease, according to the survey, the release of which was timed to mark World Mental Health Day on Tuesday.

Mental, neurological and behavioral disorders are rising so fast that they will outrank road accidents, AIDS and violence by 2020 as a primary cause of work years lost from early death and disability if nothing is done, said a report released at a conference on despair at the workplace.

Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression, said the report by the Netherlands-based World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH).

In pure business terms, despair costs companies more than plant shutdowns or strikes, said the ILO. "These trends represent a wake-up call for business," it said.

Bad management costs companies not only in loss of productivity from a less healthy and motivated workforce but also through higher staff turnover with the associated costs of recruitment and training replacement staff, the ILO said.

In the United States, clinical depression has become one of the most common illnesses, affecting one in ten working age adults at a cost of 200 million working days lost each year, the survey said.

One in five American families is affected by severe mental illness and some 80 million people in the United States are estimated to have a psychiatric impairment, the survey said.

Mental health disorders are the leading cause of disability pensions in Finland, where over 50 percent of the workforce has some kind of stress-related symptom and seven percent suffer from severe burnout leading to exhaustion, cynicism and sleep disorders, the ILO said.

Reference Source 89

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