The policy every country should copy from Germany: Therapy, vacations and money for burned-out workers
Germany has a long tradition of "health shelter" for struggling or worn-out parents.
Sebastian Schwerk lay awake at night, his mind busy. His father had recently died of leukemia. Schwerk had been taking care of him for months, along with his siblings, as well as taking care of his family. Now his mother also needed care. His two older children were going through puberty. And he worried that with so much going on, his youngest son wasn't getting enough attention.
"All those issues were causing me a lot of stress," recalls Schwerk, who is the creative director of a communications agency in Dresden, Germany. "And then my partner said to me, 'You do realize you're eligible for a health shelter, right?'
Germany is probably the only country in the world where occupationally consumed parents are legally entitled to about three weeks of health care every four years. A treatment is prescribed by a doctor and is mostly financed by insurance. Treatment includes not only therapies, but also food, childcare.
Crucially, taking time off from work can be done not only to treat a health problem, but also as a preventative measure against worse problems.
Schwerk, for example, decided to apply for an insurance-funded withdrawal as a preventative measure to treat his insomnia. "My main need was really to spend as much time as possible with my son, without stress, and to get back to a healthier lifestyle," he says. In January 2020, he and his youngest son spent three weeks at a coastal clinic. Schwerk took classes in muscle relaxation, meditation, Nordic walking and yoga, none of which she had tried before. He even gave up some customs like the favorite beer for the Germans.
Maybe all countries should apply the same procedure as Germany.