Record-breaking sick leave due to mental illness

Record-breaking sick leave due to mental illness

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Sick leave: absenteeism due to mental illnesses reaches new record highs

The fact that the increasing work stress and pressure to perform does not leave us without a trace is shown, among other things, by sickness reports. Absenteeism due to mental illness has been increasing for years and has reached a new record high.

Stress and high performance expectations at work are increasing for many people. It has an impact on health. The number of days off due to mental illness has reached a new high. Overall, however, employees in Germany were less likely to be on sick leave last year.

On average around 15 days on sick leave

A current pre-evaluation of the Health Report 2020 by Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) shows that sickness-related absenteeism has decreased slightly compared to the previous year.

According to this, there was an average sick leave of 4.21 percent in 2019. As the health insurance company wrote in a message, this is a minus of 0.81 percent compared to the previous year (4.25 percent).

Accordingly, the average number of working persons on sick leave was 15.37 days last year, compared to 15.49 days in the previous year.

The figures come from the preliminary data of the TK Health Report 2020. The basis for this is the approximately 5.3 million employees insured with TK (employed persons and ALG 1 recipients).

Less pronounced cold wave

According to the TK, the less pronounced cold wave is the main reason for this decline.

"The cold waves at the end of February and before Christmas regularly result in an increase in absenteeism," explains Albrecht Wehner, responsible for health reporting at TK.

"Since this wave was lower at the beginning of last year compared to 2018, we are seeing a slight decrease in absenteeism for 2019 as a whole."

Mental illnesses cause most days of incapacity to work

In 2019, mental illnesses such as depression are also responsible for most absenteeism in the workforce.

With an average of 2.89 days of incapacity for work per capita, they even increased again compared to previous years (2018: 2.77, 2017: 2.71 days).

"Mental illnesses are responsible for around 19 percent of all absenteeism, which is the highest value compared to other diagnoses - even before back complaints and colds," said Wehner.

Baden-Württemberg with the lowest absenteeism

The regional differences remain striking. With 12.6 days absent, Baden-Württemberg continues to be the state with the lowest absenteeism, followed by Bavaria (13.3).

The highest absenteeism, as in previous years, is in the east of the state: Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (19.8), Saxony-Anhalt (19.5) and Brandenburg with an average of 19.3 absentee days per insured year.

"However, analogous to the federal trend, there is also a slight decrease in absenteeism in the eastern federal states compared to the previous year, which is probably also due to the less pronounced cold wave," explains Wehner. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Techniker Krankenkasse (TK): Sickness falls slightly - mental illnesses at a record high, (call: 01.02.2020), Techniker Krankenkasse (TK)

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