How Your Job Could Be Affecting Your Mental Health

When it comes to your career, there may be nothing worse than doing a job you hate. According to a University of Manchester study, having a “poor quality” job is worse for your mental health than having no job at all. For employees who dislike their workplace, staying at a job you dislike can be bad news for your mental health, and here’s why:

Worsening Mental Health Symptoms: Whether you already deal with a mental health issue or not, staying in a work scenario you dislike has mental health consequences, especially when you feel obligated to stay.

Research from the Human Relations journal found that those who stayed at companies because they felt obligated or couldn’t find other job opportunities were more likely to experience exhaustion, stress, and burnout. In addition, ‘this feeling of indebtedness and a loss of autonomy are emotionally draining over time.’ These factors can lead directly to mental health symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

Delayed Mental Health Issues: The impact of disliking your job may also follow you later in life. Ohio State University conducted a study that tracked the job satisfaction of people between ages 25-39, and then measured their health once they turned 40 years old.

What the study found was those who had low job satisfaction in their 20s and 30s were more susceptible to mental health issues later in life, including higher levels of depression, sleep problems, and excessive worry. Those who had bad job experiences in their early careers also showed higher instances of diagnosed emotional problems and they scored lower on a test of overall mental health.

No Silver Lining: Our brains are naturally sticky for the negative, and that’s doubly true when you’re dealing with a mental illness. Some people who are in less-than-ideal work conditions can’t find the silver lining in a bad scenario and will be less likely to consider their current position as a stepping-stone to something better or feel grateful to have a paycheck. It’s difficult to get to a positive place with a mental illness in the mix.

“It’s harder for people who have mental illness to manage this thought process around hating their job,” Schewitz intimates. “People with mental illness may have a harder time getting that silver lining theme, so it’s easier to go to a dark, negative place when you have mental illness.’

Difficulty Leaving a Bad Situation: Sometimes it feels easier to stay in a bad job because mental illness just doesn’t allow for a path out. This means we’re more likely to stay in the bad situation because we can’t motivate ourselves to find alternatives.

“There’s a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness,” says Schewitz. “If you’re feeling hopeless and helpless then you’re often not motivated to change your situation if you feel that way about your job and feel overwhelmed at the thought of even trying to get a new job.” To get out of this mindset takes a serious effort, one brought about by shifting our thoughts to a more active place find the motivation to move on.

Fear of Getting Help: Considering all the mental health consequences of staying in a job you dislike, it may be one of the best times to engage a mental health professional to achieve that perspective shift that will ultimately help you find your way to a better workplace. Not to mention, the extra support and validation a therapist can provide go a long way.

According to a study, people that work a ‘low quality job’ and have a psychiatric disorder, are less likely to seek assistance for their mental health, largely due to a fear of being fired because of the stigma. This can lead to feeling more trapped, hopeless, and helpless, feelings that prolong the time you’re left in a bad situation, which starts the cycle all over again.

While we know it isn’t as simple as just getting out when you have a job you dislike as most of us do need a steady income, the mental health consequences of sticking around can take a huge toll on you as an individual. If you’re in this situation, don’t be afraid to reach out for help, knowing you have the right to find a workplace that aligns with your values and beliefs. We can assist you in finding your dream role through our career coaching service, and utilising your skills set to create a resume highlighting your transferable skills.


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