Japanese firms observe mental health issues rebound this year

Young employees reporting mental health issues hit record-high numbers in Japan

Japanese firms observe mental health issues rebound this year

The number of Japanese firms that said mental health issues were on the rise spiked this year, as young employees reporting them leaped to record highs, according to new data.

Nippon reported this week a new survey from the Japan Productivity Centre, which polled 169 firms between July and September.

The survey revealed that the number of businesses that said mental health issues were on the rise jumped to 45%, rebounding after hitting its lowest of 22.9% in 2021.

The centre attributed the rebound to the COVID-19 impacting work styles and the concept of what a workplace should be, according to the Nippon report.

The centre, however, pointed out that the sudden spike should still be reviewed on whether it was temporary or if it meant a new trend.

Mental health of young employees

The findings come as the survey also discovered that younger workers have been struggling with their mental health this year.

Among respondents in their teens and 20s, the rate of employees experiencing mental health issues jumped to a record-high 43.9% from the previous 29%.

There were also more employees in their 30s suffering from mental health issues, as the rate also jumped to a new high of 26.8%.

The centre noted returning to workplaces after the downgrading of COVID-19 might have been stressful for younger employees, who joined their organisations during the pandemic.

According to the centre, these employees were unable to build up interpersonal connections or work skills while they were still under remote work, Nippon reported.

Incentivising office return

In a bid to boost employees' mental health, some organisations in Japan have been extending allowances to get them to come to the office and socialise.

Nikkei Asia reported that Osaka-based Agileware has been paying employees JPY2,000 to show up in the office, while an additional JPY500 is given to employees who go out for lunch together.

Another organisation extending financial incentives for office work is Nagoya-based Acompany, which extends an extra JPY1,000 a day to employees who do their jobs in the office from 1PM to 4PM.

"We thought that it was necessary for employees to meet face-to-face and have opportunities to sense each other's work troubles and health conditions," Agileware CEO Mitsuyoshi Kawabata told Nikkei Asia.

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