Mental illness is the most common reason for disability benefits
Mental illnesses increasingly lead to disability and early retirement. An evaluation of the German Pension Insurance (DRV) has shown that mental illnesses have become the most common reason for early retirement from work. In the past few days, several state representations of the Techniker Krankenkassen (TK) had reported with reference to the DRV survey that in some states, such as Hamburg, Bremen, Lower Saxony, Bavaria or Rhineland-Palatinate, almost half of early retirement from mental illnesses be conditioned.
Early retirement due to mental illness has increased dramatically in the past ten years, with their share of early retirement increasing by a total of 15 percentage points between 2000 and 2010. With reference to the figures of the German Pension Insurance, the TK reported that, for example, last year in Hamburg "57.7 percent of women and 42.2 percent of all early pensions for men were mentally related". The average age of those affected was 52 years. Although the numbers in other federal states, such as Saxony-Anhalt or Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, were significantly better, almost a third of the approved disability benefits were due to a mental illness.
Mental illness due to stress at work? Across Germany, the average share of early retirement in psychological terms of the disability pension totaled 41 percent in 2011, reports “Welt Online” with reference to the figures of the German Pension Insurance. Depression, anxiety disorders and other mental disorders are therefore the most common reason for premature retirement from work - clearly ahead of diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular diseases (e.g. coronary heart disease, arteriosclerosis). More than four out of ten early retirees are mentally ill. The experts at Techniker Krankenkasse describe the high stresses in the work environment as possible causes. "Time pressure, constant availability and the fear for the job do not leave many people without a trace," explained the consultant for occupational health management at TK in Lower Saxony. Annelie Buntenbach, board member of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), comes to a comparable assessment in an interview with the “Welt am Sonntag”.
Many workers stressed by working conditions The DGB warns of the stress at work, which is a reason for the rising early retirement. "The psychological stress caused by agitation and stress at work has become so high that it jeopardizes the health and performance of the employees," emphasized Annelie Buntenbach. The annual DGB survey in March would have shown that around 20 percent of employees in Germany work at least ten hours overtime per week to cope with the workload. Very often, more than a quarter of employees have to be available during their free time, which means that 52 percent of employees feel massively stressed, according to the DGB survey. According to the Techniker Krankenkasse, it is therefore "important for companies to recognize stress in the work environment in good time and to counteract the health consequences such as burnout or addiction." Here, executives should not taboo the topic of mental illnesses and talk to their employees about the individual psychosocial stress Speak workplace, the health insurance company said. "The willingness of a company to invest in the health of its employees will become increasingly important in the coming years," emphasized Sabine Voermans, head of the TK regional representative for Lower Saxony, with reference to the forecast shortage of skilled workers as a result of demographic change.
Politics calls for measures to reduce mental stress in the work environment The health policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, Karl Lauterbach, told the “Welt am Sonntag” that the work stress does not allow many employees to combine work and family. "This explains why women are more likely than men to be unable to work for psychological reasons," Lauterbach continued. A total of 48 of the early retirement for women was attributable to psychological problems, while the proportion for men was only 32 percent. The Federal Minister of Labor Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) also recognizes a worrying trend. In the future, workers should be better protected against extreme psychological stress, von Leyen told “Welt am Sonntag”. An initiative for better mental health and safety at work should be launched by the end of January. "Now we are working hand in hand with employers, unions and accident insurance companies to find out which programs and concepts and specific rules can effectively protect employees from psychological stress," emphasized the Federal Minister of Labor in an interview with the newspaper. The massive increase in early retirement as a result of mental illnesses from 24 percent in 2000 to 39 percent in 2010 is, however, not only due to the fact that burdens actually increased, but is also partly due to the greater openness of the population in dealing with the subject of mental illnesses. (fp)