“Don’t be married to the job, be engrossed in the work,” Atlantic correspondent, Ellen Ruppel Shell wrote recently in reference to the malaise of job dissatisfaction affecting many young Americans. Shell is of the persuasion that this particular mental sickness owes a great deal of its wrath to a misunderstanding of what good work actually means. Many supplant personal worth with professional achievement-a provisional, clandestine beast, that sees many unfortunate post-graduates chasing ghosts indefinitely.
New findings published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, portends several reasons to validate Shell’s concerns; for some, the notion that they’re producing “good work” is the only thing keeping them from sharp mental decline. One of the researchers involved in the recent study, Andrea Zechmanne expounds with the following: “Often, employment is reduced to the obvious — such as that it provides an income, gives us a sense of security, or we talk about employment with a negative connotation (it’s too much, too stressful, the colleagues aren’t nice), but we forget that work, in general, is something that helps us to stay psychologically healthy.”
How unemployment plagues self-worth
The report began with an analysis of more than 1,000 individuals that were either unemployed or expected to be unemployed sometime in the near future. For two and a half years, these subjects were asked to complete questionnaires regarding their wellbeing. The respondents that found work in this two and half year span reported fewer instances of psychological duress. In addition to the anxieties that correlate with states of financial poverty (which the study also made a point to make note of), more abstract factors contributed to mental decline; things like a loss of a sense of purpose being significant amongst them.
“Employment does not only provide us with an income (the so-called manifest function of employment) but it enables access to psychological experiences that help to satisfy important psychological needs,” Zechmanne commented to Psypost.
The study’s authors hastened to clarify that “employment” should not be viewed as a salve for mental illness whether it’s basis circumstantial or otherwise. The researchers merely sought to identify why the two shared such a notable cause and effect relationship.
While it’s true that many of the studied participants that found work during the study period expressed improvements to day to day disposition, some went on to find jobs that caused them a different character of mental unrest. Zechman concludes, “There are many bad jobs that thwart our mental health and researchers must also continue to identify what makes people ill in the world of work.”