Why are mental illnesses becoming more common?

More and more mentally ill people can no longer work

GARCHING. According to a study by Swiss Life, burnout, depression, anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses are the most common causes of occupational disability in Germany. According to an analysis by the insurance company, mental illness is the cause of premature retirement in well over a third - 37 percent of cases.

"In the last ten years alone we have registered an increase of 40 percent in this segment," said Amar Banerjee, Head of Insurance Production at Swiss Life Germany. According to the company, this is likely to be accompanied by an increase in stress, pressure to perform and a lack of balance in working life.

The insurer evaluated the data of its customers. Mental illnesses are followed by diseases of the musculoskeletal system with 24 percent, followed by accidents with almost 14 percent. According to its own information, Swiss Life has a market share of over seven percent in the German market for occupational disability insurance, but the company did not provide any absolute figures.

Similar figures for pension insurance

However, the analysis is consistent with figures from the federal pension insurance in Berlin. Women are obviously much more at risk than men: According to the Swiss Life study, 44 percent of the occupational disabilities are due to a mental illness, while the figure is only 28 percent for men. In addition, women are more likely to get mentally ill at a young age; in men, these diagnoses only occur more frequently in the second half of life.

The trend becomes particularly clear in a long-term comparison: In 1983, the statutory pension insurance of the federal government paid less than ten percent of the disability pensions due to mental disorders, in 2017 it was almost half - 41,186 of 83,583 cases.

Pension insurance has also registered a particularly strong increase in mental illnesses in the past ten years: in 2018, over 170,000 inpatient rehabilitation sessions for mental illnesses were approved, over 50,000 more than ten years earlier. This also corresponds to an increase of 40 percent.

The pension insurance experts do not assume that German citizens are more likely to become mentally ill today than in previous decades, but only that depression, burnout and other ailments are better recognized today and thus diagnosed more frequently. (dpa)

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