Unresolved conflicts and shaming processes: risk factors for long-term sick leave for mental-health reasons
Mental illness is the most common diagnosis resulting in long-term sick leave in Sweden today, especially stress-related syndromes and mood disorders. The aim of this article is to analyse the relational and emotional processes in the workplace that may contribute to the understanding of long-term sick leave for mental-health reasons. We conducted interviews with twenty-six people who were on sick-leave because of diagnoses of mental ill-health. The empirical material was analysed using Classic Grounded Theory. We suggest that the risk of being afflicted with mental illness, and forced into long-term sick leave, increases when there are conflicts at work that remain unresolved and which lead to malignant shaming processes that jeopardize personal dignity. In their struggle to maintain self-esteem, the afflicted escalate their work efforts by increasing work intensity, putting in overtime, and working when ill. Eventually, this behaviour affects their health and results in sick-listing. The strengths and weaknesses of the study are discussed along with the need for further research.
Copyright (c) 2014 Lena Ede, Bengt Starrin
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