Monday, July 21, 2008

South Korea: Mental illness rising among office workers

From Korea Times July 17:

With the business world becoming ever more complex and competitive, more people are suffering from various mental illnesses due to work-related stress, government data showed Wednesday.

While women tended to suffer more human relation-related problems at work,
men were seen to be more vulnerable to the stress of work itself. The number of
those diagnosed with depression or other mental illnesses has steadily risen. It jumped to 354,221 in 2007 up from 163,213 in 2000, according to the National
Health Insurance Corp.

Competition among peers " thriving for promotion or having to achieve various work-related targets " drove office workers to severe stress. Researchers classed this as "Acute Stress.''

"The key reason to mental disease is stress. Workers should always try to effectively control their workload and tell themselves not to rush,'' Psychiatrist Kang Hee-chan said.

The number of male office workers suffering mental illness doubled to 212,883 in 2007 from 114,579 in 2000, with the number of females increasing threefold to

It was mostly the workload or the work itself giving stress to males. They said they couldn't bear the stress of having to stay late at work or not being able to go home; or dealing with large amounts of hard work. They mostly had "insecurity'' issues.

Men in their 30-50s were the most common sufferers. About 3.7 percent of those in their 40s and 50s had such symptoms. On the other hand, women couldn't stand the stress of conflict and tension caused by relations in the office.

"I had this boss always picking on me and teasing me. Whenever she came near me, I started getting nervous. I had indigestion problems and had to take some therapy,'' 31-year-old office worker Yang said. "I had to take medication for that. I couldn't quit the job, though.''

Yang said she has been taking medicine for the past two months. Another worker at a perfume manufacturer said she has been in therapy for over a year.

"I am rather a quiet person. But office life was all about being vibrant and having to laugh all day with people. It took me a year to assure myself that I could be friends with my teammates,'' she confessed.