Toxic workplaces bad for mental, physical health

The U.S. surgeon general says that disrespectful or cutthroat workplaces could be hazardous to your health, according to an Oct. 20 report from The Wall Street Journal.

Promoting a healthy workplace includes growth opportunities, work-life balance, and community, according to the report. The office of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, issued new guidance outlining how long hours, limited autonomy, and low wages can affect workers' health and organizational performance. 

According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress disrupts sleep, increases vulnerability to infection, and has been linked to other conditions like heart disease and depression. Furthermore, the association data indicates that 18 percent of workers describe their workplace as toxic, and 30 percent said they had experienced harassment. 

"Toxic workplaces are harmful to workers — to their mental health, and it turns out, to their physical health as well. People are asking themselves what they want out of work. They're also asking themselves what they’re willing to sacrifice for work, and the fundamental questions are reshaping people’s relationships with the workplace," Dr. Murthy told the Journal. 

The report notes that several million people who lack a college degree and work in low-paying fields are expected to remain out of the workforce indefinitely. According to the most recent data from Mental Health America, 80 percent of workers said work stress affects their relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. Another 71 percent said they had trouble concentrating at work. 

The surgeon general recommends that employers provide access to mental healthcare as part of benefits packages, according to the Journal.

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