Unresolved conflicts and shaming processes: risk factors for long-term sick leave for mental-health reasons

  • Lena Ede
  • Bengt Starrin
Keywords: mental illness, long-term sick leave, shaming processes, unresolved conflicts

Abstract

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.

Published
2014-05-05
How to Cite
Ede, L., & Starrin, B. (2014). Unresolved conflicts and shaming processes: risk factors for long-term sick leave for mental-health reasons. Nordic Journal of Social Research, 5. https://doi.org/10.7577/njsr.2074
Section
Articles