National

Mental ills spur 470,000 to take work leave

An estimated 470,000 corporate workers are taking long-term leave due to mental problems, missing out on a combined 1 trillion yen in annual wages, according to a heath ministry survey.

The survey was conducted last September and covered 389 manufacturers nationwide.

The poll found that three-quarters of the responding firms had workers who had taken leave for a minimum of one month due to mental problems such as depression in the year to the end of September, and that the average duration of leave was 5.2 months.

The proportion of such workers stood at 0.79 percent at firms with up to 299 employees, 0.54 percent at those with 300 to 999 employees, and 0.37 percent at bigger firms employing 1,000 or more, showing higher ratios at smaller firms.

The poll also found only a quarter of the firms have introduced a system allowing workers who had taken long-term leave to come to work on a trial basis so they can ease back into the job.

“Workers with mental disorders face many difficulties in returning to work, but they are not receiving sufficient support” from their employers, said psychiatrist Satoru Shima, who heads a research team at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry that conducted the survey.

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