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People with mental health disorders 76% more likely to be out sick due to stress

Stress at work can cause those with mental health disorders to call in sick more frequently, a study finds. File Photo by KieferPix/Shutterstock
Stress at work can cause those with mental health disorders to call in sick more frequently, a study finds. File Photo by KieferPix/Shutterstock

April 1 (UPI) -- Stress at work -- including high workloads and dysfunctional workplace culture -- can lead those with diagnosed mental health disorders to call out sick more often, a new analysis has found.

People with diagnosed mental health disorders are up to 76 percent more likely to have "sick absences" from work due to on-the-job stress than those not diagnosed with a mental health condition, according to an analysis of research published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry.

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Rather than focus on specific conditions, such as anxiety or depression, the researchers looked at overall diagnoses by medical professionals.

"Psychosocial stressors at work, including high psychological demand, low job control, low reward and low social support from co-workers or supervisors increased the risk of sickness absence due to a mental disorder," study co-author Caroline Duchaine, a doctoral candidate at the Université Laval in Canada, told UPI.

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According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, roughly one in five Americans experience mental illness. More than 40 percent of adults in the United States receive treatment for a mental health condition, with anxiety being the most commonly diagnosed disorder.

For their analysis Duchaine and her colleagues assessed 13 published studies that enrolled more than 130,000 participants who were working adults. All of the studies compared "sick absences" from work among people with diagnosed mental illness with people who did not have a diagnosed condition.

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The analysis showed those with mental illness working in "low-reward" jobs -- such as those with low pay -- were 76 percent more likely to have sick absences from work than those without a mental health-related diagnosis. Those working in jobs with "effort-reward imbalance" -- difficult or challenging work with low pay, for example -- were 66 percent more like to have sick absences from work if they had a mental health diagnosis.

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In addition, those with mental illness working in occupations with high "job strain" and "high psychological demands" were 47 percent and 23 percent more likely, respectively, to call in sick to work than those without a diagnosis.

"Theses psychosocial stressors can be reduced by organizational intervention, implicating manager and employee," Duchaine said. "Some standards are available in several countries with recommendations or suggested interventions helping to reduce these stressors. The best way to address these stressors is to share this information with your supervisor, manager, union representative or any other employee representative in your workplace.".

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