Steady work and mental health -- is there a connection?

Sep 15, 2008

Despite low overall unemployment, Canada's manufacturing industry has cut 88,000 jobs this year, with nearly all the losses occurring in Ontario. Also, part-time employment has grown by 3.5 per cent in 12 months, much faster than the 0.9 per cent growth in full time work.

A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the social determinants of health demonstrates that these kind of employment changes can affect more than your wallet. Research from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)'s Dr. Carles Muntaner in the WHO report highlights the profound impact of employment conditions on health.

Dr. Muntaner and his research team found that poor mental health outcomes are associated with precarious employment (e.g. temporary contracts or part-time work with low wages and no benefits). When compared with those with full-time work with benefits, workers who report employment insecurity experience significant adverse effects on their physical and mental health.

The research team have also found that stress at work is associated with a 50 per cent excess risk of coronary heart disease, and there is consistent evidence that jobs with high demands, low control, and effort-reward imbalance are risk factors for mental and physical health problems (major depression, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders). Canada and a number of other wealthy countries such as the U.K., the United States, Australia and New Zealand all face similar challenges, Dr. Muntaner notes, because there's a greater tolerance for inequities than in some other countries such as Sweden and Denmark.

"Access to healthcare is not the only determinate of a healthy community," says Dr. Muntaner. "All aspects of our lifestyle, including how we work, are intrinsically linked to our wellbeing and our quality and length of life. If the face of Canada's ever-changing labour market, we must understand and improve the relationship between health and work." In the report entitled Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social Determinants of Health, three overarching recommendations to achieve health equality are made, including improving employment and working conditions, and the report contributors call for – and outline steps to achieve - global, national and local actions to improve employment and working conditions.

This landmark study from the WHO is the culmination of three year's work by an eminent group of policy makers, academics, former heads of state and former ministers of health who have been investigating the differences between and within countries that result from the social environment where people are born, live, grow, work and age – the social determinants of health. Together, they comprise the WHO's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, which has produced Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social Determinants of Health.

Source: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Explore further: AMA examines economic impact of physicians

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia's dirty secret: who's breathing toxic air?

Apr 16, 2014

Australians living in poorer communities, with lower employment and education levels, as well as communities with a high proportion of Indigenous people, are significantly more likely to be exposed to high ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

Job dissatisfaction encourages workers to choose temping

Sep 05, 2013

The unhappiness of being in a bad job is strongly linked to people's decision to leave permanent work for the uncertain world of temporary employment, the British Sociological Association's conference in Warwick heard today.

Recommended for you

AMA examines economic impact of physicians

8 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Physicians who mainly engage in patient care contribute a total of $1.6 trillion in economic output, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)'s Economic Impact Study.

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

8 hours ago

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

9 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.