Work, Home Conflict Leads to Mental Health Woes

Jan. 2, 2001
People whose troubles at home interfere with their ability to do well on-the-job are more likely to suffer mental health problems, according to a study.

People whose troubles at home, such as a bad marriage or sick child, interfere with their ability to do well on-the-job are more likely to suffer mental health problems than those without such conflicts, according to a new study.

The opposite predicament -- a worklife that interferes with family -- may also cause increased mental health problems, but at a lower rate.

Researchers at the State University of New York in Buffalo looked at data from 2,700 men and women who were employed and either married or the parent a child 18 years old or younger.

Using statistical analysis, the researchers correlated job and family conflicts with mental disorders like anxiety or substance abuse.

Those who had a work problem that interfered with their family life were three times more likely to have a mood disorder, such as depression, 2.5 times more likely to have an anxiety disorder and twice as likely to have a substance dependence disorder compared with those without such conflicts.

The study results appear in the December issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

However, those with family problems that interfered with work were 30 times more likely to have a mood disorder, 9.5 times more likely to have anxiety disorder and 11 times more likely to have a substance dependence disorder than those without conflicts, according to the report.

The researchers explained that "in terms of practical implications, the present results suggest employers should not overlook work-to-family and family-to-work conflict as a source of stress in the lives of its employees."

Researchers said simply developing strategies and programs to reduce either type of work-family conflict is not enough.

"Corporate cultures also must change so that employees feel comfortable taking advantage of the available resources," researchers concluded.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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