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Mental Illness Foremost Reason for Absenteeism

Absenteeism at work places has become a major cause of concern as most of them are related to mental health. Stress, depression, anxiety were the main mental health problems due to which people abstained from work.

A study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) on about 30,000 workers revealed that mental illness was the second largest cause for absenteeism only next to muscle related problems like bad back.

The study showed that worker took up to 30 days off on account of depression and those suffering from stress took almost 21 days sick leave. Thus it has become a major cause of lost productivity.

Research conducted by the Mental Health America show that the mental problems spill- over to their professional life and ebb the job performance. It also cost the US government a loss of $150 billion in lost productivity. The research indicates that workplace stress causes about 1 million Americans to miss work each day, and that 75 per cent of employees who seek care see substantial improvement in work performance.

Ben Willmott, CIPD employee relations adviser, said: This research shows how important it is for managers and HR practitioners to be aware of the signs of mental ill health so that they can take action early and provide support before the individual's condition deteriorates to the point they go off on long-term sick leave.

He added that the Government also had a role to play in finding ways to "help and encourage" more employers to provide staff with access to cost effective occupational health services. Tax incentive should be introduced so that the employers are encouraged to provide occupational health service to employees.

Mr. Willmott is of the opinion that "Just as crucially, GPs need to work more closely with employers to identify opportunities for phased return-to-work for individuals with mental health problems in less demanding or reduced hours roles as part of their rehabilitation."

A return to work plan is essential to maintaining patient employability. Not doing so may have a negative impact on a person's physical health, as well as social and economic circumstances.

University of Colorado research indicates that successful treatment of depressive employees improves individual productivity by an average of 6 per cent while reducing absenteeism by 22 per cent.

The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics identifies that mental problems result in lack of motivation for further education and training thus limiting the employees capacity.

The illness due to depression and stress is causing lots of misery to the family and friends. Research has also shown that the problem is also reaching the young school going children. The formative years must be used to develop awareness among children and their parents that mental wellbeing deserves the same priority and normalcy of physical health care.

A latest study in England shows that the number of prescriptions for anti-depressants had hit an all-time high.


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