You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Depression risk is 300% higher in offices that fail to prioritise mental health, acknowledge hard work

Moneycontrol logo Moneycontrol 24-06-2021 Chanpreet Khurana
a man in a blue shirt: Depression risk is 300% higher in offices that fail to prioritise mental health, acknowledge hard work © Chanpreet Khurana Depression risk is 300% higher in offices that fail to prioritise mental health, acknowledge hard work

Workplaces that don't prioritise mental health, fail to acknowledge and reward hard work, and place unreasonable demands on employees increase workers' risk of depression by 300%, a year-long study conducted in Australia has found.

Additionally, the study found that in such workplaces, long working hours (41-48 hours a week, and upwards of 55 hours a week) were detrimental to employees' mental health, even when workers felt engaged in what they were doing.

Led by the University of South Australia's Psychosocial Safety Climate Observatory, the study was done with 1,084 employees (661 males and 423 females) working in New South Wales, Western Australia and Southern Australia.

The study findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal BMJ Open on June 23, 2021.

Study findings

The study found that offices with poor psychosocial safety climate (PSC) were associated with a threefold increase in risk for new major depression symptoms.

("New" here indicates that the workers did not have a previously diagnosed condition - indeed the study placed a condition to exclude people who already had symptoms of major depression.)

Additionally, the study found that male participants were more likely to develop major depression symptoms as a result of PSC than the females in the study.

It also found a link between employee engagement leading to long working hours, which subsequently led to major depression symptoms.

The study also found a link between high levels of burnout and workplace bullying to "corporations’ failure to support workers’ mental health".

To be sure, this study was a cohort or population-based study done in some parts of Australia. More India-specific studies should ideally be initiated to measure the impact of organisations that ignore the mental health of employees or don't actively develop policies to create a supportive psychosocial climate.

Measuring psychosocial safety climate

The authors of the study used a 12-item scale, divided into four subscales:

How committed is the senior management to the psychological health of employees? For example, would the senior manager act decisively "when a concern of an employee’s psychological status is raised"?

Do the organisation and senior management prioritise psychological health? For example, do senior managers see employees' psychological health as being important as productivity?

Organisational communication: Are there opportunities to talk about psychological health issues in the office? And does the organisation make a point of communicating psychological safety issues that affect employees?

Does the organisation encourage employee participation and involvement in psychological safety matters.

The participants in the study had to rank their organisations from  1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) on these metrics.

More from Moneycontrol

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon