A new Australian study finds that almost one in six cases of depression among working people are caused by job stress.
The University of Melbourne study concentrated on the state of Victoria, the smallest and most densely populated of the mainland states in Australia. Scientists analyzed job stress data collected from a 2003 survey of 1,100 workers and compared the findings to a national database.
Researchers discovered working women and individuals working in lower skill occupations were especially at risk for job site depression.
Stressful working conditions in this study were defined as a combination of high job demands and low control over how the job gets done (or “job strain”).
The study, led by Associate Professor Tony LaMontagne is published this month in the international journal BMC Public Health.
It estimates that:
LaMontagne, the leader researcher, said women and those in lower-skilled occupations are more likely to experience job stress, and so bear a greater share of job stress-related depression.
“This represents a substantial and inequitably distributed public health problem,” Associate Professor LaMontagne said.
“The burden of mental illness in the general population follows a similar demographic pattern, suggesting that job stress is a substantial contributor to mental health inequalities,” he said.
LaMontagne said that solutions are available to address this problem.
“The evidence shows that improving job control, moderating demands, and providing more support from supervisors and co-workers makes a difference,’’ he says. “Our hope is that a better understanding of the scale of this problem will lead to more support for employees, particularly for lower-skilled workers and working women.”
VicHealth CEO, Todd Harper said the study shows that workplaces need to do more to prevent workplace related mental health problems.
“Given so many people spend a large part of their day at work, we need to find the best ways workplaces can promote good health rather than cause health problems,” Mr Harper said.
“Workplaces provide an important setting to prevent illness through strategies to reduce stress, as well as programs that address nutrition, physical inactivity and smoking,” Mr Harper added.
Source: University of Melbourne