Bad jobs worse for mental health than joblessness

Thursday, October 14, 2010

MELBOURNE - Having a bad job is worse for your mental health than not having one at all, new research suggests.

In the study, Australian National University (ANU), researchers found that people who remained unemployed were likely to be happier than those who gained employment in a ‘poor’ job.

The researchers defined a poor job as one with little job security, an unrealistic workload or little control over managing workload, or no prospects.

Previous research has shown that employed people have better mental health than unemployed people, so efforts to promote mental wellbeing and social inclusion focus on getting people back to work.

But it’s not that simple, says Dr Liana Leach from ANU’s Centre for Mental Health Research.

“Any job is not necessarily better than no job at all. And it’s not about a particular type of job. Poor conditions can occur in any kind of occupation,” ABC Science quoted Leach as saying.

The researchers studied around 4000 people living in Canberra and Queanbeyan. Participants completed a survey about their employment status and conditions as well as their mental wellbeing. The same survey was repeated four years later.

The findings are important for both employers and programs aiming to get people back to work, says Leach.

The study has been published in the journal BMC Public Health. (ANI)

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