Having a job with poor working
conditions can be just as stressful and bad for a person's mental health as
being unemployed, according to new research published in Psychological
The recent study led by Peter
Butterworth, associate professor, ANU College of Medicine, Biology and
Environment, England, used nationally representative data to analyze and
compare the mental health of people having adverse psychosocial job conditions
with those who were unemployed. The study was based on the data from the 2007
English Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey. The sample size of the study was
2,603 individuals aged between 21 and 54 years.
Poor psychosocial job quality is
characterized by factors such as high job demands, low job control, poor job
security, and least of all, low job esteem. Professor Butterworth pointed out
that the study results support the theory that mental health benefits of work
are confined to good quality jobs, while having a poor quality job is as good
as being unemployed and involves the same risks of poor mental health.
There appeared to be no difference in
the rates of common mental conditions, such as anxiety and depression, between
the unemployed and those who held low quality jobs.
The results of this study tallied with
the findings of an Australian study carried out previously. These results add
to a growing body of analysis highlighting the need to address the psychosocial
aspects of work environment as a part of an effort to reduce mental illness in
Good job conditions would increase job
control, security, and esteem while reducing job demands.
'The improvement of psychosocial work
conditions, such as reducing job demands, and increasing job control, security,
and esteem can flow on to improvements in employee's mental health and reduce
the burden of illness on public health systems', said Prof. Butterworth.