Mental disorder due to work stress has been a serious problem worldwide, particularly in East Asian countries including Japan, Korea and Taiwan, where long working hour was prevalent. This study aimed to compare the trend and characteristics of occupational mental disorder and suicide, as well as the national policy for preventive measures in these three countries.Methods
A comprehensive literature search of relevant articles in English were retrieved from PubMed, irrespective of publication date. The search keywords used were occupational, work-related, mental, psychiatric, compensation, compensated, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. Official statistical data, recognition guideline and national preventive measures regarding occupational mental disorder in respective countries were also obtained.Results
In Japan, the number of compensated cases of occupational mental disorder has increased substantially since 1999, particularly among young workers. While in Korea, the trend was more steadily increasing. However, in Taiwan only very small number of patients with mental disorder received compensation. An acute stressful event was the most common reason for approval in Korea. In Japan, change in workload and work quality accounted for an important stressor, including for the suicide cases.Discussion
The guideline for occupational mental disorder recognition came into place in Japan in 1999, and has influenced the development of guidelines in Korea in 2006 and Taiwan in 2009. All three countries recognised mental disorders as compensable occupational diseases, but the diagnosis entitled in the compensation insurance differed. Suicide due to work-related issues was discussed particularly in the Japanese and Korean context. The criteria of Japan and Taiwan included evaluation of the strength of various types of work-related and non work-related stressors. National initiative of prevention of overwork-related mental disorder was established under Occupational Safety and Health Act in all three countries. A special act against Karoshi, including work-related suicide was also enacted in Japan.