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Mental disorders: employment and work productivity in Singapore

Abstract

Aim

To examine the association between mental disorders and work disability in the adult resident population in Singapore.

Method

Data are from the Singapore Mental Health Study, which was a household survey of a nationally representative sample. The main instrument used was the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). Employment-related information was collected using the modified employment module of the CIDI.

Results

A total of 6,429 respondents were included in the analysis, 71 % (n = 4,594) were employed, 24.5 % (n = 1,522) were economically inactive and 4.5 % (n = 313) were unemployed. Among the employed, 2.3 % had a 12-month prevalence of at least one mental disorder, while 5.3 % of the unemployed had at least one mental disorder. The average number of work loss days (absenteeism) per capita among those with a mental disorder was 0.5 per month that is equivalent to an annualized national projection of approximately 0.3 million productivity days. The average work-cutback days (presenteeism) were 0.4 days among this group. Of the mentally ill in the workforce, a high proportion (86.5 %) did not ever seek help for problems related to mental health.

Conclusion

Our findings provide information on the significant consequences of mental disorders on the workforce in terms of lost work productivity, which could pave the way for a more rational allocation of scarce resources.

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Acknowledgment

This research was supported by funding from the Singapore Millennium Foundation and the Ministry of Health, Singapore.

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Correspondence to Siow Ann Chong.

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Chong, S.A., Vaingankar, J.A., Abdin, E. et al. Mental disorders: employment and work productivity in Singapore. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 48, 117–123 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-012-0526-5

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Keywords

  • Mental disorder
  • Employment
  • Absenteeism
  • Presenteeism
  • Productivity