Hög sjukfrånvaro och ökad psykisk ohälsa: Om dilemman i förskollärares uppdrag

Persson, S. & Broman, I. T.
Malmö stads förskoleförvaltning, Avdelning för kvalitet och myndighet


The study investigates various dilemmas in pre-school employees’ duties and sheds light on the perceptions and experiences of different groups of staff regarding contributing causes of high absence due to illness and poor mental health. The report also proposes and discusses possible measures to improve the working day of pre-school employees. The four research questions are: 1) What kind of challenges, problems and dilemmas arise in the material studied? 2) What is perceived as particularly contributing to the high level of absence due to illness and the increasing number of mental health issues? 3) What factors appear as being particularly relevant in pre-school teachers’ duties and work situation? 4) What actions are proposed to improve the current situation, generally and specifically?


Four key topics emerge from the analysis of pre-school employees’ duties and everyday work: 1) the boundless nature of the duties and the pre-school teacher’s loyalty, 2) the pre-school teacher’s responsibility and leadership, 3) the lack of control and 4) the need for consensus.

  • The pre-school teachers talk about a high workload where they are responsible for the children’s development and teaching and must also manage care tasks. At the same time, the pre-school teachers feel a strong loyalty to the children, the organisation, the work group and the parents. This loyalty can constitute a stress-related trap. A strong emotional commitment that cannot be realised may lead to stress and a negative view of work. High demands and small and dwindling resources can lead to exhaustion.
  • Few educated pre-school teachers, a high level of absence due to illness and a shortage of substitute teachers lead to a pressured working environment with high workloads. The pre-school teachers miss having close colleagues and experience a loneliness in their responsibility for the educational activities.
  • The pre-school teachers experience a lack of control in their everyday work, where they talk about uncertainty and many ad-hoc solutions to acute problems. Employees and children are part of several relationship constellations that they often have no control over. This influences the pre-school teachers’ ambitions to provide good care and willingness to provide the children with continuity and security. In turn, this affects the pre-school teachers’ mental health.
  • Many pre-school teachers express concern about a lack of consensus and ethical principles among the staff regarding the kindergarten’s duties and different views on childhood, learning and knowledge. The decreasing number of pre-school teachers makes it difficult to develop communities of practice that have a common language, knowledge base and view of the duties to be performed.


The empirical data consists of public documents, statistics, research and interviews with HR personnel, pre-school coordinators and pre-school teachers. The researchers have analysed development plans, quality plans and reports from the City of Malmö and Malmö Pre-school Administration, as well as statistics, reports and research. The sample includes 30 ECEC journals and 30 quality reports and quality plans from pre-schools in seven urban areas where absence due to illness was particularly high in 2017. A total of 46 people were interviewed. These include HR personnel from the City of Malmö, pre-school coordinators and pre-school teachers.


Persson, S. & Broman, I. T. (2019). ”Hög sjukfrånvaro och ökad psykisk ohälsa: Om dilemman i förskollärares uppdrag”. Rapport. Malmö stads förskoleförvaltning, Avdelning för kvalitet och myndighet.