- A demanding job, nasty boss and poor job security are as bad for your mental health as being out of work
- Only those who enjoy their jobs fare better
- Also linked to increased risk of heart disease
PUBLISHED: 07:35 EST, 23 November 2012 | UPDATED: 07:50 EST, 23 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.
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.