A European study finds that corporate downsizing not only affects those who lose jobs but also those who continue working there.
'Employees who remained in work after downsizing may be at increased risk of being prescribed psychotropic drugs,' said lead author Mika Kivimaki, from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London.
'In other words, enforced redundancies may boost mental health problems among those who keep their jobs,' he added.
'Indeed, we have previously also shown organizational downsizing to be a strong predictor of stress-related physical health outcomes, including cardiovascular mortality,' he said.
A group of nearly 27,000 municipal workers in Finland between 1994 and 2000 were studied. Kivimaki's team observed data on the use of psychotropic drugs, including antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and sleeping pills in those workers.
4,800 among these workers worked in units that under went layoffs but kept their jobs, around 4,300 lost their jobs, and units of 17,600 were downsized.
It was found that men who lost their jobs showed maximum risk of getting a prescription for a psychotropic drug.
Surprisingly, even men who continued working after a layoff were also 50 percent likely to suffer mentally, compared to those who worked for units that were not downsized, the researchers found. Women were 12 percent more likely to be given a prescription.
Men were prescribed sleeping pills whereas women were mostly prescribed anti-anxiety drugs, Kivimaki said.
'Policy makers, employers, and occupational health professionals should recognize that organizational downsizing may pose mental health risks among employees,' Kivimaki said.
The findings confirm that layoffs affect everyone in the workplace.
'This is an important study that supports the negative impact downsizing has on survivors who keep their jobs, as well as on those who lose them,' said Dr. Rosemary K. Sokas, the director of the division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.