Is the workplace a factor in developing mental health problems?
Both physical and mental health are affected by a large number of factors including:
- Age and gender
- Personal history (past trauma, learned coping mechanisms)
- Environment (air and water quality, exposure to toxins)
- Drugs (prescription, over-the-counter, illegal)
- Lifestyle (diet, physical activity, sleep, smoking or other substance use)
- Support system (relationship status, social supports at home and work, access to healthcare)
- Stress (perceived differently by everyone)
Because there are so many factors, except in the case of a severe psychological trauma (such as being assaulted on the job), it’s rare to draw a definitive link between a person’s work situation and the development of a mental health problem. We do know that workplace factors associated with how we organize our work and manage our people, as well as incidents of harassment, alienation or bullying, may directly contribute to mental distress (feeling anxious, depressed, burnt out, or demoralized).
That distress can be a source of considerable suffering, and create substantial problems on the job (such as decreased productivity). It can also lead to the development of a psychological disorder, make an existing disorder worse, or block rehabilitation efforts. There are a wide range of psychological disorders.