Research — 28 November 2012

Having a job you hate is as bad for your  mental health as being unemployed, Australian researchers have  claimed.

They say that people with poor working  conditions suffer just as much as those out of work.

And they weren’t just referring to a dusty  factory or dimly lit office, but psychological factors such as a demanding job,  nasty boss and poor job security.

The researchers, from the Australian National  University, compared the mental health of British people who were unemployed  with those in jobs of differing ‘psychosocial quality’, as they called  it.

The study’s author, associate  professor Peter Butterworth, said that  people unhappy in their jobs were just as likely to have mental health issues as  those without a job at all.

‘Our analysis clearly established that there  was no difference in the rates of common mental disorders, such as anxiety and  depression, between those who were unemployed and those who were in the poorest  quality jobs.

‘Both of these groups of individuals were  more likely to experience a common mental disorder than those who were in high  quality work [i.e. a job they liked].

Previous research has found that people who  are unhappy in their job have elevated blood pressure readings even when not at  work.

And earlier this year scientists at  University College London found getting passed over for a promotion is linked to  heart disease.

They tracked the employment histories and  health outcomes civil servants in London.

People who feel out of control at work are also more  likely to develop heart disease

Those in departments with high rates of  promotion were approximately 20 per cent less likely to develop heart disease  than those who weren’t.

‘It’s largely down to a feeling of being in  control (or not),’ said Daryl O’Connor, professor of health psychology at the  University of Leeds. 

‘If you feel you’ve put in a lot of effort  and it has not been rewarded, this increases stress and, in turn, the risk of  heart disease.’

Speaking about his research into mental  health, Professor Butterworth added that improving work conditions – i.e.  reducing job demands, and increasing job control, security, and employee’s  self-esteem would, in turn, boost their mental health.

‘It would also reduce the burden of illness  on public health systems,’ he said.

‘This research adds to a growing body of  research highlighting the need to address the psychosocial aspects of the work  environment as part of national government plans to reduce mental illness in the community.’

And when it comes to promotion, it’s relative  status that’s important, not just being the big boss.

‘It doesn’t matter where you are on the  ladder, it’s where you think should be,’ says Professor O’Connor.

As first appeared in Daily Mail.


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