Stress is the theme for the world day of healthier workplaces

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Stress and social ill-health is a growing concern in a large number of countries. This is shown in the report entitled Workplace stress: a collective challenge, which the International Labour Organization (ILO) presented in conjunction with the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28 April.  The report is a summary of research results on stress and social ill-health at workplaces around the world. It gives a clear picture of just how widespread these problems are. A study from Japan shows that 32.4% of the country’s employees were affected by high anxiety and stress related to work at some time during the past year. According to a survey in Chile in 2011, 27.9% of employees and 13.8% of employers said that there was stress and depression in their companies. Similar results were found in virtually all countries that took part in the survey, from Asia and Australia to America and Europe. Several factors that contribute to increasing social ill-health were taken up in the report. Increasing global competition puts pressure on both employers and employees; speedier communications; blurred boundaries between work and leisure; the difficulty of achieving a balance between private life and work – there are many issues. The report also noted that social ill-health costs – both in terms of human suffering and in purely financial terms. In Europe alone, the cost of work-related depression is estimated at 617 billion a year. That sum includes sickness benefits (€272 billion), reduced productivity (€242 billion), healthcare costs (€63 billion) and social allowances and support measures (€39 billion).

Linda Sundgren

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