Japan Data

Young Employees in Japan Most Likely to Experience Work-Related Mental Health Issues

Health Work Society

Japan has seen a rise in the number of young employees struggling with work-related mental health issues from stress and other factors as firms reopen offices after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reflecting today’s increasingly stressful society, a survey conducted by the Japan Productivity Center, asking human resource personnel at listed companies about mental health initiatives that were being implemented, revealed a sharp uptick in the number of younger workers at firms dealing with mental health issues related to their jobs.

According to the survey, the group experiencing mental health issues the most were workers in their teens and twenties. The rate among this group soared to a record high of 43.9% from 29.0% recorded at the time of the last survey in 2021. The rate for employees in their thirties also rose to a new high, reaching 26.8%.

The rate for workers in their teens and had inched upward starting in 2008, but remained mostly level in the 2017, 2019, and 2021 surveys. The Japan Productivity Center stated that while the situation could not be judged on the survey results alone, it noted that employees returning to workplaces after COVID-19 was downgraded to a Class 5 infectious disease on par with influenza was stressful for younger workers who had joined companies during the pandemic and subsequently had not been able to adequately build up interpersonal connections or work skills while working remotely.

Employees Experiencing Work-Related Mental Health Issues by Age

The percentage of firms saying that mental health issues were on the rise had been trending downward since peaking at 61.5% in 2006, reaching its lowest level in the 2021 survey at 22.9%. However, in the most recent survey, it jumped to 45.0%. This rise was connected with a fall in the percentage of companies who answered that there was no real change in the number of employees struggling emotionally or that the rate was declining. The Japan Productivity Center said that this change in responses was potentially due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic altering work styles and the concept of what a workplace should be, coupled with the process of employees adapting to those changes. The center stated it was necessary to closely observe whether this sudden increase was temporary due to these major changes or whether it constitutes a new trend.

Perceptions of Mental Health Issues at Companies in Japan

The center conducted the survey between July and September 2023. It mailed the survey to 2,847 companies and received responses from 169 firms. This is the eleventh such survey, which has been conducted approximately every two years since 2002.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

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