Occupational He alth: Masses

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Occupational He alth: Masses
Occupational He alth: Masses

Mass expulsion also harms those who are not fired

Male professionals who have had to experience a wave of layoffs in the company without losing their own job subsequently suffer from mental illnesses almost as often as their colleagues who have been made redundant. This is what researchers at University College London report.

The scientists around Mika Kivimäki had analyzed data from 26,500 municipal employees in Finland after a massive wave of layoffs in 1993 up to the year 2000. They compared the medical history of a total of 4,000 layoffs with that of 17,600 people who had worked in unaffected departments and 5,000 employees who had not been made redundant from departments in which jobs had been cut.

Discharged men were 64 percent more likely than uninvolved men to be prescribed antidepressants and sleeping pills, putting them at greater risk of psychological sequelae. But their former male department colleagues were also prescribed half as many psychotropic drugs. The effect was significantly smaller in women.

It is obvious, according to the authors, that workload and stress increase in departments with fewer staff, but that the stress associated with an assumed impending job loss also increases. In addition, those who remained in the job often felt a sense of guilt towards those who were made redundant. Psychological stress is often attempted to be combated through inappropriate action strategies, which then divert resources from the actual core areas of work, which in turn can increase the actual risk of one's own dismissal.

Overall, comments psychologist Cary Cooper from the University of Lancaster, those affected often no longer trust the statements of their supervisors, even if they rule out dismissals in the future: Managers should therefore "act absolutely honestly and understandably towards staff to work to increase their credibility".

While the number of sick days in Germany has almost halved since the beginning of the 1990s, the proportion of mental he alth problems as the cause of absenteeism in companies has steadily increased over the same period. In 2005 they were the fourth most frequently cited reason. Mental illnesses occur predominantly in occupations that are otherwise characterized by a low level of sick leave. (yo)

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