Burnout syndrome becomes a ticking time bomb

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IG-Metall: Burnout syndrome turns into a ticking time bomb: The union demands anti-stress regulations in the workplace

Constantly increasing working hours, superiors who constantly demand higher levels of work from their employees and many times the fear of losing their own job in times of crisis: The IG-Metall union warns of serious social problems, because more and more workers feel burned out and increasingly complain about mental health problems Diseases. With an increase in burnout syndrome, the union is calling for anti-stress regulations to protect workers from exodus through work.

People in Germany are increasingly exposed to stress at work. Numerous evaluations by the health insurance companies confirm rising patient data in the field of mental illnesses. Depression and symptoms of overload are at the forefront of the reasons for medical sick leave. In view of this dramatic development, the IG-Metall union demands legal protection against excessive stress in the workplace. A corresponding legal regulation is not only in the interest of the employees, but also of the German society. Because, according to the trade unionists, mental illnesses are becoming an economic threat. "Nothing less than a social time bomb is ticking here," warned IG-Metall board member Hans-Jürgen Urban in Berlin today while presenting an internal study. More and more people are under pressure from employers and are showing signs of depressive episodes or fatigue syndromes. There are hardly any corresponding offers of help or even preventive measures at the workplaces. Stress and burnout have already reached massive proportions in working life. It was negligent to continue to ignore the problems or to deal with them under "also ran".

Anti-stress regulation called for Corresponding regulations have already been made in other countries, which have led to a significant relief for people. In order to protect workers from increasing work density and physical and psychological symptoms of exhaustion, the black and yellow federal government had to put in place an anti-stress regulation. Such a regulation could be structured similarly to the regulations on noise protection. Employers, workers' organizations and politicians should work together to develop guidelines to protect people from stress-related health risks.

Increase in mental illnesses in companies In addition to health insurance data, IG-Metall bases its statements on a survey study among around 4,000 works councils. During the flash survey, participants were asked about the stress and burnout of employees in their work and organizational area. An overwhelming majority (86 percent) said that mental illnesses are seen as a clear problem area in their operations. Around 40 percent of the works councils stated that they perceive a medium to large increase in mental illness among employees. 63 percent said that the relevant offers for those affected were missing or only barely offered. 73 percent called for better health protection for workers. "More needs to be done to protect health".

Although the survey study is only a snapshot, as the union official said, the results are in line with the evaluations by the statutory health insurance companies. The Scientific Institute of the General Local Health Insurance AOK (WidO) had recently calculated that every tenth illness report was due to mental disorders. Since 1999, the number of days absent due to psychological disorders has risen by a good 80 percent. Last year alone, around 100,000 patients were on sick leave due to the diagnosis of burnout. At 23.4 days per patient, mental illness lasts twice as long as the average at 11.6 days per case. Treatment costs have risen rapidly in recent years and cost the healthcare system around 27 billion euros a year. According to the institute, the production downtime costs of the companies amount to approximately 26 billion euros per year. The AOK Science Institute put the number of days absent in 2010 at 1.8 million working days.

"Countermeasures must finally be taken here," Urban demanded. Politicians should put pressure on employers to force them to improve working conditions. IG-Metall demands legal anti-stress directives that are already used in other countries such as Sweden, France or Italy.

The most significant triggers for mental disorders are massive overtime, underwork, overwork, poor management and a growing workload that hardly any employee can do. In addition, the ongoing economic and financial crisis is increasingly affecting people. Many are experiencing growing insecurity and fear of threatening unemployment. The companies have overcome the crisis, "but the workers pay the costs," Urban criticized. Around 68 percent of the works councils surveyed stated that stress and overload have increased significantly since the economic crisis. “Business management shouldn't be enthroned over human health,” said Urban. There are classic rules that protect workers from health risks such as noise or pollutants. Now rules must finally be created against too much stress and pressure to perform. Here the legislature has a duty to protect people.

First warnings of burnout syndromes Many people do not notice the first warnings and take refuge in an increased commitment to certain goals at work. In the initial phase, those affected work non-stop, many then even work on weekends. The work develops as a supposed center of life for the sick. Your own emotional needs are put on hold in the service of the cause. Those who do not have the same work ethic are often devalued in a team by colleagues. Social contacts are increasingly reduced to business partners. While many are still comfortable at this stage, others are already beginning to compensate for stress with overeating, smoking, or alcohol. Chronic fatigue gradually becomes noticeable. Other symptoms such as inner restlessness, depressed moods, sleep disorders, heart stumbling, dizziness or weakness in concentration cause the barrel to overflow. Those affected feel empty and burned out. Many take years to regain their mental, physical condition before exhaustion. (sb)

Read on:
Burn out usually hits the committed
Burnout syndrome: total exhaustion
Burnout syndrome affects more and more people
Underload makes you sick: the bore-out syndrome
Burn-out patients keep silent about their suffering
Burnout causes more and more lost work

Image: Gerd Altmann, Pixelio.de

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