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Mental Health in the Workplace : Factors & Key Facts

During our adult lives, a large proportion of our time is spent at work. Our experience in the workplace is one of the factors determining our overall well-being.

Employers and managers who put in place workplace initiatives to promote mental health and to support employees see gains not only in the health of their employees but also in their productivity at work.

Key facts

1. Work is good for mental health but a negative working environment can lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity.

2. Unemployment is a well-recognized risk factor for mental health problems, while returning to, or getting work is protective.Research shows that unemployment, particularly long term unemployment, can have a detrimental impact on mental health.

3. Depression and anxiety disorders are common mental disorders that have an impact on our ability to work, and to work productively. Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, the leading cause of disability. More than 260 million are living with anxiety disorders. Many of these people live with both.

4. Harassment and bullying at work are commonly reported problems, and can have a substantial adverse impact on mental health.

Work related Risk factors to mental health

There are many risk factors for mental health that may be present in the working environment.

Most risks relate to interactions between type of work, the organizational and managerial environment, the skills and competencies of employees, and the support available for employees to carry out their work.

For example, a person may have the skills to complete tasks, but they may have too few resources to do what is required, or there may be unsupportive managerial or organizational practices.

Some Risk Factors include;

  • inadequate health and safety policies;

  • poor communication and management practices;

  • limited participation in decision-making or low control over one’s area of work;

  • low levels of support for employees;

  • inflexible working hours; and

  • unclear tasks or organizational objectives.

Risks may also be related to job content, such as unsuitable tasks for the person’s competencies or a high and unrelenting workload. Risk may be increased in situations where there is a lack of team cohesion or social support.

Bullying and psychological harassment (also known as “mobbing”) are commonly reported causes of work-related stress by workers and present risks to the health of workers. They are associated with both psychological and physical problems.

These health consequences can have costs for employers in terms of reduced productivity and increased staff turnover. They can also have a negative impact on family and social interactions.

Tomorrow, our focus is set on Creating a Healthy Workplace, see you back here in 24 hours.

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