Workplace environment and it's impact on mental health
WHO (World Health Organization) has formulated a draft which covers mental health in diverse areas. One of the areas is workplace. Globalization has accelerated the world economy and opened new opportunities for the people. This has led to establishment of new organizations that carry out the demands of this rising economy. The work has become a part of our lives, some choose work to sustain their family while others choose work to gain financial freedom also providing them with an opportunity to create meaningful life and contributing to community.
Globalization has led to emergence of new field in psychology called organizational psychology and industrial psychology. Both are the subfields in psychology that studies human behaviour in working conditions and applies psychological theories and principles in organizations. In other words, these field closely examines the behaviour of an individual in work environment. As adults, we spend most of our lives working, interacting with the colleagues and sometimes conflicts arise due to difference in habits, thought pattern or competitiveness. Although these things are very common in workplace but when it goes out of proportion, it impacts our mental health. Stress at workplace has become the leading cause of depression and anxiety. People often find hard to talk about their mental health at workplace. Some prominent issues at workplace are:-
• Sexual harassment
• Low motivation
• Job dissatisfaction
• Interpersonal conflicts
• Long duration
All the above stated issues affect the mental health that leads to low performance, burnout, absenteeism etc. ultimately impacting the organization as whole. It has been observed that LGBT community mostly feels unsafe at workplace. They complain of being treated differently by their co- workers. A theory known as Job Demand Control explains that stress sets in when there is little control over working conditions and too many demands. People who work in mining sector suffers from substance abuse. At least 40% of people describe their work as extremely stressful.
Mental health of the workers is the prime concern of the psychologist working in this area. The workplace is of the key environment that affects our mental health. Job stress, a term in psychology, which is defined as a form of emotional and physical stress occurs when the job of the individual does not match their skills or are unable to fulfil the needs of the worker. Some of the causes underlined are overwork, social isolation, job insecurity, poor working conditions.
Bullying and sexual harassments at workplace can cause individual to feel detached from their surroundings, symptoms of depression and self-harm can occur. Also, it may develop low self-esteem, low self- efficacy. It has often seen that work-related issues sometimes affects the relationship of the individual with their co-workers as well as family. Job stress has been defined as the leading cause of mental health problems in EU countries. In developing countries like India and Bangladesh, concern for work-related illness is gaining momentum at rapid rate. Several workshops are conducted by the companies to help their workers to cope up with stress or other problems.
Usually, mental health problems largely affect people but they are mostly hidden at work due to the stigma attached to it. In the survey of U.S National Comorbidity, the researchers found intriguing results. They said that 18% of the Americans around ages of 15-54 experienced symptoms of mental health disorders. Most people do not report the problems as they fear that they might lose their job as some families have sole breadwinners. The clinicians who treats the individuals sometimes find themselves in unfamiliar territory while working with the patient. The lack of awareness regarding the mental health is also the cause of why many psychological disorders go unnoticed. Unlike physical ailments which shows its effects immediately, psychological ailments take time to settle and slowly damages the person from within. Their treatment is highly required as they impact the individual’s occupational, social life.
In a report presented by Jennifer Veitch (Ph.D.), it was revealed that people who spent working away from their home suffers from separation, loneliness, stress, inhibited creativity, alcoholism, social isolation and other problems. According to 2014 study from North-western University concluded that people who work in poor lightings experienced impaired sleep and lower well-being. Another study from Germany deduced that working in a noisy condition also impairs one’s mental health. In a journal of environmental psychology, it was revealed that lack of privacy or supervisors always checking out their employees becomes the source of fear and employees face emotional exhaustion or burnout. Thus, it leads to drop in mental health.
With increased awareness in mental health, psychoeducation is being given to employees by some companies to increase the job performance, turnover as well as inculcate feeling of oneness within the employees. This is done by organizing events by the companies for their workers. Vocational counselling is form of counselling which helps employees to identify their skills and find jobs which best suits their skills. Workplace environment impacts the mental health of an individual at greater level.