Increase in work-related mental illness at the UT

| Michaela Nesvarova

Year 2020 brought an increase in work-related mental illness at the University of Twente, states the annual report of UT’s occupational health service ‘Arbo Unie’. On the other hand, the absenteeism rate decreased and was below the national average.

Arbo Unie reports that, just like last year, psychological complaints were the main reason for absence in 2020. Mental health problems accounted for 38% of all absenteeism. Furthermore, 24% of mental health absenteeism was work related in 2020. This marks an increase compared to 2019. On top of that, employees were sick longer, regardless of their diagnosis.

The annual report includes a reflection from the HR department, stating that the UT ‘recognizes that there is an increase in work-related mental illness. It is desirable to have insight into the underlying cause, as this is a worrying increase.’ The HR department plans to ‘investigate further where the cause lies, and whether this is an occasional increase or part of a trend.’

Percentages of different diagnosis in 2020. Psychological problems account for 38%, ‘bone, muscle and joint complaints’ form 11%, ‘other diagnosis’ forms 22% and 29% of all cases weren’t given any diagnosis.

Source: Annual Review 2020 of UT’s Occupational Health Service Arbo Unie

Lower absence rate

Arbo Unie also mentions several ‘positive developments’ in its review. Although the total number of sick days grew, this increase was still lower than expected. ‘In light of the pandemic, Arbo Unie expected more absenteeism’, states the report.

The document also points out substantial decreases in the absence rate and the reporting frequency. These are not only much lower than in 2019, but also significantly lower than the national figures. While the average absence rate grew across the Netherlands in 2020, the numbers at the UT dropped from 3.52% in 2019 to 2.89% in 2020. This is below average compared to the Dutch working population overall (4.7%). There is, however, a clear difference between the figures for academic staff (2.19%) and support and management staff (3.8%).



Stay tuned

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.