Mental health in the workplace does not exist in a vacuum – it is deeply affected by the worker’s home life and vice versa, according to recently published research from Concordia University and the University of Montreal.
Researchers surveyed 1,954 employees from 63 different organizations and found that a number of factors contribute to mental health problems in the workforce. The study measured factors including parental status, household income, social network, gender, age, physical health and self-esteem alongside typical workplace stressors including emotional exhaustion, poor use of skills, high psychological demands, job insecurity and lack of authority.
The study showed that fewer mental health problems are experienced by workers who live with a partner, in households with young children, with higher household incomes, with fewer work-family conflicts and with greater access to the support of a social network outside of the workplace. Support in the workplace is still important, however. Fewer mental health problems also are experienced by workers whose work is recognized and who feel secure in their jobs. In addition, a high level of skill use is associated with lower levels of depression, indicating the importance of designing tasks that motivate and challenge workers.
“This is a call to action,” Steve Harvey, PhD, professor of management and dean of Concordia’s John Molson School of Business and senior author of the study, stated in a press release. “Researchers need to expand their perspective so that they get a full picture of the complexity of factors that determine individuals’ mental health.”
The researchers recommend taking a holistic view to combat mental health issues in the workplace.
Harvey S. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 2014;doi:10.1007/s00127-014-0932-y.