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Mental Illness

When stress becomes a prolonged or chronic experience, it can result in psychological distress, including generalized anxiety, burnout, and depressive symptoms. Work-related stress can also be a factor in exacerbating pre-existing mental illnesses and may even precipitate clinically diagnosable symptoms of depression. A growing body of empirical evidence in the occupational health field is making connections between the way work is organized and burnout, as well as more long-term adverse psychological health outcomes such as chronic anxiety and clinical depression. In turn, psychological distress has been linked to absenteeism, “presenteeism,” job dissatisfaction, and turnover [1-3]. The wear and tear of long working hours and physical harm to the body motivated the social reforms of the early years of industrialization, including the 8-hour work day and the 40-hour work week. Laws were established to allow for physical and mental recovery time from work; they are now seriously compromised to the detriment of the psychological (and physical) well-being of workers. Not only should the psychological effects of work stress be a concern for individuals, but also for employers, labor unions, and society as a whole.

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