Mandatory Annual Mental Health Examination
Partial revision of the Industrial Safety and Health Law (労働安全衛生法) is presently being debated in the Diet.
This is about making mental health examinations (commonly referred to as “stress checks”) mandatory which is included in that debate.
- -About 60% of workers have intense stress, according to the Survey on State of Employees’ Health by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
- -30% of those who commit suicide are workers according to Metropolitan Police Department records.
- -The number of patients with mood disorders have risen 2.5-fold in the past 12 years according to a patient survey.
- -The percentage of companies pursuing mental health care was 47.2% in 2011. The goal is to have 100% of companies address mental health care by 2020.
System for Checking Stress
- Employers will be required by law to enforce examinations by doctors / public health nurses to grasp the degree of metal burden / load carried by workers.
- Companies will need to implement face-to-face guidance sessions with a doctor at the request of workers whose examination results have already been made known to them. After receiving the doctor’s opinion on the face-to-face guidance session results, appropriate measures such as changing tasks, shortening working hours must be taken, if needed.
- Companies with 50 or more employees will be required to follow the law, companies with 49 employees or below will be obliged to make an effort to follow the law.
- Companies may write their own questionnaire. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has proposed “9 questions”. Neither questionnaire does not have enough scientific basis.
- In terms of protecting privacy, answers to questions will only be made known to the employee himself or herself. Examination results cannot be given to the company without the employee’s consent.
- For companies with an occupational health physician (company doctor), their participation in the face-to-face guidance sessions is desirable.
Problems Pointed out by Specialists
- Among those judged to have high stress levels based on the stress check test, many do not actually have poor mental health so it may be inefficient to deal with these cases.
- The stress check test only gauges personal stress symptoms and one’s poor condition which makes it difficult to turn these results into primary prevention measures (proactive measures) such as improving workplace conditions.