« 土曜授業の復活 工夫を重ねて有意義な時間に | トップページ | 日米外相会談 強固な同盟をアジアに示そう »

2014年2月10日 (月)

ストレス診断 うつ病の予防につなげたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 10, 2014
Workers’ stress diagnosis tests may help prevent depression
ストレス診断 うつ病の予防につなげたい(2月9日付・読売社説)

Can a government-envisaged program help prevent mental illnesses in the workplace and lead to measures to deal with such ailments at an early phase?

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry plans to make it mandatory for businesses to conduct stress diagnosis tests on their employees.

The ministry will submit a bill to revise the Industrial Safety and Health Law during the current Diet session, with a view to putting the program into force before the end of fiscal 2015.

Everyone feels some kind of stress at work. If that stress becomes excessive, workers run the risk of developing mental illness, such as depression. It is a serious problem that the number of recognized claims for work-related mental problems under the workmen's compensation insurance system has been rising.

The stress diagnosis program is not aimed at winnowing out workers with mental health problems. The ministry says the program is designed to help employees become aware of the signs of depression or other mental problems.

Companies under the program would be expected to throw their support behind treatment of their employees’ mental problems and to help them return to work, while taking steps to improve the workplace environment.

Specifically, the program is designed to determine the degree of employees’ fatigue and anxiety once a year through questionnaires that would be evaluated either by a medical doctor or public health nurse. Individual employees would be able to request interviews with and advice from doctors, according to the ministry.

If a doctor suggests a worker needs to have his or her working burden reduced, the company would be obliged to take such measures as job reassignment or cutting the working hours of employees involved.

Huge costs involved

The business activities of companies can be seriously affected if workers in their most productive years have to leave the workplace because of mental health problems. Arrangements to ensure workers’ mental health are also important from the viewpoint of reducing losses to society and the national economy. One estimate puts the value of losses due to workers’ mental problems at ¥2.7 trillion a year.

However, there are many problems that must be resolved before making the stress diagnosis program obligatory.

The program, if carried out, will cover all company employees throughout the country, an estimated 55 million. Financial burdens for conducting a single round of stress diagnoses are projected to run to the tune of ¥10 billion for the business world as a whole.

Compared to the huge cost, what are the actual benefits? In-depth Diet deliberations on the bill are essential on the cost-benefit problem.

It will also be difficult to secure a sufficient number of doctors to provide advice during interviews with employees with mental health problems.

No more than 47 percent of all companies have mental care systems for their employees. Smaller companies are particularly slow in addressing this problem as they have no physicians with industrial experience on call.

The health ministry should extend a helping hand to businesses in this matter through such steps as pressing practitioners with the industrial physician qualifications to play “family doctor” roles for small and midsize companies.

It is also necessary to ensure that support centers for mental health measures set up in each prefecture function effectively so they can help industrial physicians provide companies with expert advice on mental health.

In addition, arrangements to support employees given leaves of absence after developing depression symptoms are highly important. This is because such people may not be able to easily return to work.

Some companies have produced positive results by having their employees on leaves of absence consult with clinical psychotherapists. Technical know-how relevant to such practices should be broadly shared in the business world.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 9, 2014)
(2014年2月9日00時23分  読売新聞)


« 土曜授業の復活 工夫を重ねて有意義な時間に | トップページ | 日米外相会談 強固な同盟をアジアに示そう »





« 土曜授業の復活 工夫を重ねて有意義な時間に | トップページ | 日米外相会談 強固な同盟をアジアに示そう »