Danish defence minister returns after six-month stress leave

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Danish defence minister returns after six-month stress leave
Defence Minister and chairman of Venstre, Denmark's Liberal Party, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen in his office on Tuesday. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Danish Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen returned to work on Tuesday, after a six-month leave due to stress and burnout.


"So I'm at it again," Ellemann-Jensen said in a post on Facebook.

"I'm really looking forward to it! I'm also a little nervous," the 49-year old posted Monday evening.

Ellemann-Jensen, who is also the leader of the Liberal (Venstre) party, went on sick leave in early February "to unplug" on the advice of his doctor, hardly two months after a new coalition government -- led by Social Democrat Mette Frederiksen -- took power.

Taking time off due to stress "was one of the hardest decisions of my life," he said.

"It was a critical time for the Liberals and the military, and I felt like I was failing," Ellemann-Jensen said.


"I thought I would be away for a couple of weeks and then I would be back again. It didn't work out that way," he added.

The politician, who has been a member of parliament since 2011, said that being overcome by stress "can feel like a death sentence -- not just for your career, but for your whole existence."

"Along the way, I became afraid that I would never be myself again. That I would never be able to handle working again. But it is possible to get through it and come back strong," the minister said, adding that he had been helped by the backing of friends, colleagues and his family.

In his absence, Minister for Economic Affairs Troels Lund Poulsen took over as defence minister.

In Denmark, health authorities estimate that 29 percent of adults suffer from severe stress.


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