The risk of severe psychological stress was increased two to three times among workers with a high or potentially high occupational risk of being infected with the coronavirus, including workers outside the health sector. This is the conclusion of a study by the Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine (IPA) of the German statutory accident insurance.
The influence of the pandemic on the mental burden in the health sector is already well documented, but not in other sectors. The IPA therefore conducted an online survey between December 2020 and June 2021 in the public, financial, retail, public transport and industrial sectors, to which 1,545 workers responded.
Measured using the Patient-Health-Questionnaire-4, the results showed that the percentages of people suffering from severe or important symptoms had almost doubled in the 2nd and 3rd waves. “The increase in psychological stress is particularly marked among professionals in education and social work, occupational groups for which Covid-19 is also often recognised as an occupational disease”, explains Dr Swaantje Casjens, lead author and coordinator of the study.
In addition to the risk of infection, work-life conflicts, lack of instructions on protection against infection, insufficient protective measures at the workplace and lack of contact with colleagues influenced the severity and frequency of anxiety or depression symptoms. “It was mainly single mothers who suffered from work-life conflicts”, faced with the difficulties of organising childcare when nurseries and schools were closed”, according to Dr Casjens.