WorkerA new UK study suggests mental health problems in childhood are linked with adult challenges in the workplace. And, problems in working life were associated with mid-life depression and anxiety.

The findings are based on over 8000 participants of the 1958 Birth Cohort, all of whom were born during one week in March 1958, and whose health has subsequently been tracked.

For the cohort, mental health was reviewed during childhood at the ages of 7, 11, and 16 using information from teachers and parents.

Personal interviews to assess mental health were then conducted into adulthood at the ages of 23 and 33.

At the age of 45 the participants were invited to discuss their working lives and their perception of their personal mental health.

Researchers discovered an association between living in rented accommodations, having a longstanding illness, difficulty finding employment and the absence of a partner were all linked to depression and anxiety in mid-life.

Workplace stressors, including little control over decisions, low levels of social support, and high levels of job insecurity were also associated with depression and anxiety.

According to the researchers, the workplace stressors quadrupled the risk of depression and anxiety.

Furthermore, internalizing behaviors in early childhood and adulthood strongly predicted poor quality working life, with many work stressors. Internalizing behaviors are usually defined as depression or lack of concentration, as opposed to externalizing behaviors, such as bullying and disruption.

Although mental health problems in early childhood and adulthood did not fully explain the mid-life depression, these could have a knock-on effect, suggest the authors.

Mental health problems in childhood could affect the ability to pass exams and gain qualifications, blighting an individual’s prospects of getting well paid and satisfying work.

And people who have experienced mental illness early in their lives may also opt for less demanding, low status work, because it might be more manageable, but at the same time, less rewarding and more stressful.

Source: British Medical Journal