A new study suggests that up to 14 percent of common mental health issues could be prevented by reducing job strain in work place.
Mental health problems are more common than we might think. Depression is considered the leading cause of workplace absenteeism. As the leading cause of disability worldwide, anxiety is another common mental health problem.
Some studies have suggested that job strain is the leading cause of stress but there is however, not much to conclude on whether the intensity of a high-pressured work environment could lead to common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
This new study, published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, sought to find out how the intensity of high-pressured work environment could lead to common mental health issues like anxiety and depression. The research — led by associate professor Samuel Harvey, from the Black Dog Institute in Sydney, Australia — examines the impact of job strain, defined as a combination of low job control and high job demands, on mental health.
Harvey and colleagues analyzed data available on 6,870 people enrolled in the United Kingdom National Child Development Study, a large cohort study. The researchers focused on whether people who experienced a high level of job strain at the age of 45 would go on to develop mental health issues by age 50.
To determine job strain, the participants answered questions about their decision-making abilities at work and their ability to use their skills at their discretion, as well as questions about the workload, work pace, and other demands of the job.
Harvey and his colleagues accounted for potential factors outside of the workplace that might have influenced the results, such as marital separation, financial stress, a death in the family, or health issues. The participants’ IQs, education, and history of mental health issues were also considered. At age 50, the participants’ mental health was assessed using the Malaise Inventory questionnaire.
Overall, by the age of 50, the study participants who had experienced higher job strain were up to 14 percent more likely to develop a common form of mental illness. “The results indicate that if we were able to eliminate job strain situations in the workplace, up to 14 percent of cases of common mental illness could be avoided,” explains Harvey.
Harvey further weighs in on the study, saying, “These findings serve as a wakeup call for the role workplace initiatives should play in our efforts to curb the rising costs of mental disorders.” “It’s important to remember that for most people, being in work is a good thing for their mental health,” he goes on to say.
“But,” Harvey continues, “this research provides strong evidence that organizations can improve employee well-being by modifying their workplaces to make them more mentally healthy.”
“Workplaces can adopt a range of measures to reduce job strain,” says Harvey, “and finding ways to increase workers’ perceived control of their work is often a good practical first step. This can be achieved,” he goes on to explain, “through initiatives that involve workers in as many decisions as possible.”
Here are some few tips that can help you to manage work stress better
- Track your stressors. Keep a journal for a week or two to identify which situations create the most stress and how you respond to them.
- Develop healthy responses.
- Establish boundaries.
- Take time to recharge.
- Learn how to relax.
- Talk to your supervisor.
- Get some support.
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