Maybe even more than one person; stress is ‘one of the most common work-related health problems in EU countries’, according to the 2010 World Health Organisation (WHO) report Mental health and work: Impact, issues and good practices.

More specifically, 20% of people in the EU15 countries reported feeling stressed at work in 2005. This rises to 30% for the EU10 countries, as stated in a 2009 report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

Not everyone who is stressed continues to develop burnout, but burnout rates are also high. In fact, 13% of Sweden’s active working population scored high on a burnout questionnaire conducted by BioMed Central in 2010. Their survey found peaks among younger workers, particularly women between 35-44 years old, a staggering 21.5% of which reported feeling burnt out.

To say the least, the cost of stress and burnout run into millions through healthcare, social welfare claims, lost tax, and lost productivity. Not to mention the strain of stress on individuals themselves.

EU-funded 2014 research by Matrix found that 14% of stressed employees go on to develop depression. The WHO agrees: ‘Some of the many effects of stress include numerous physical ailments as well as mental health problems such as depression and increased rates of suicide’, they said in their 2000 report. The European Commission also stated in 2000 that work-related stress ‘affects at least 40 million workers in the 15 EU Member States and costs at least 20 billion euro annually’.

 The prevalence of stress-related illnesses, especially among young people, is alarming to say the least. One factor adding to the situation is that baby boomers are getting ready to retire, and younger generations are already struggling to pay for it.

At the moment four employees pay for one retiree in developed countries. This is expected to double by 2050, when only two people pay for one retiree, according to Problems of Contemporary World Futurology by Yakunin. These developments are troubling, even without taking the burnout rates into consideration.

f509ab2df30e28c7_shutterstock_136830527-xxxlarge_2xWhy is it that there are so many burnouts nowadays? Why are so many that fall victim to stress relatively young (between the ages of 18 and 44)? A new book by sociologist Thierry Venin of the University of Pau et des pays de l’Adour, sheds new light on this development.

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