The number of sick leaves due to depression is increasing. “Pandemic of Mental Illness”

The number of sick leaves due to depression is increasing.  "Pandemic of Mental Illness"

Mental disorders are becoming an increasingly common cause of absence from work. Experts even talk about the phenomenon of a mental illness pandemic, which is largely a consequence of the global COVID-19 epidemic.

In 2023, 21.9 million medical certificates for own illness were issued to people insured with ZUS. This is 0.4% more than in 2022, when 21.8 million such cases were registered. Recently, the number of days of sickness absence from these certificates amounted to 237.3 million. This, in turn, is 0.7% less than a year earlier. Then there were 239 million of them. The average length of the certificate is almost 11 days.

Back pain epidemic

According to the Department's data, in 2023 the most common cause of sickness absence (in terms of the number of days) were diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue – 40.4 million days of sickness absence, i.e. 17% of the total number of days of absence. In the statistics for 2022, we see 39.1 million days and 16.4%, respectively.

Respiratory diseases come second in this ranking – 34.3 million days of sickness absence and 14.5% of the total number of days of absence (in 2022 – 34.0 million days and 14.2%). The list also includes pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period – 33.7 million days and 14.2% (a year earlier – 37.5 million days and 15.7%), as well as injuries, poisonings and other specific effects of external factors – 31 .8 million days and 13.4% (31.7 million days and 13.3%).

Pandemic of mental illness

In fifth place in the above-mentioned the list includes mental and behavioral disorders – 26.1 million days of sickness absence and 11.0% of the total number of days of absence (in 2022 – 23.8 million days and 10.0%). As emphasized by Dr. Hab. Katarzyna Kolasa, professor at the Kozminski University, after the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a pandemic of mental illnesses. European Union data show that over 40% of the population of member states struggle with symptoms of negative well-being and deteriorated mental health.

– Unfortunately, ZUS data show that depression and other mental disorders and diseases are an increasingly common cause of sickness absence. This proves a growing social problem, which also has a specific economic dimension and impact on the labor market. The COVID-19 pandemic could have been one of the factors that contributed to this situation, says Łukasz Kozłowski, chief economist of the Federation of Polish Entrepreneurs.

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