The Link Between Mental Illness and Job Strain

By Marie Donlon

Are you depressed on the job? Chances are, the reason has everything to do with your level of stress according to a study published recently in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.

In fact, the study asserts that some 14 percent of common mental illnesses might be prevented by reducing the stress and strain of the workplace.

Conducted by a nonprofit mental health group from Australia called the Black Dog Institute, the study explored how working conditions impacted the mental health status of nearly 7,000 employees. According to the findings, people at age 45 experiencing job strain displayed a greater risk of developing mental illnesses (commonly, depression) by the age of 50.

“These findings serve as a wake-up call for the role workplace initiatives should play in our efforts to curb the rising costs of mental disorders,” University of New South Wales associate professor and lead author on the report, Samuel Harvey, said.

To reach their conclusion, researchers looked at on-the-job factors potentially leading to job strain such as level of authority, the chance to use skill set, job pace, demands and intensity. Regardless of gender, class or occupation, those experiencing increased job strain consequently experienced higher rates of mental illness, according to the research.

“It’s important to remember that for most people, being in work is a good thing for their mental health,” Harvey said. “But this research provides strong evidence that organizations can improve employee well-being by modifying their workplaces to make them more mentally healthy.”