Risk Factors

Workers in sales positions were at greatest risk of high psychological distress: 5.6 percent of men and 7.5 percent of women. Workers expected to work long hours (60 or more per week) also had high rates of psychological distress. Another risk factor was working in “non-traditional gender roles” – for example, women who worked as equipment operators or laborers and for men who worked in clerical or administrative jobs. Marital separation and low education also were linked to high psychological distress.

Corporate occupational health and safety programs increasingly are taking an active approach to prevention, screening and early treatment for workers' physical health problems. Companies have been less proactive, however, in identifying and providing treatment for workers with mental health problems. Despite extensive evidence showing the high rates and costs of mental health disorders in the workplace, many employers have the perception that their employees are somehow immune to such problems.

“Employers need to focus health resources on a common, debilitating, largely untreated illness group that substantially reduces employee productivity at work, increases absences from work, and increases employee attrition,” Hilton and colleagues wrote.

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