Temporary work risks employee mental health

Aug 11 2009 by Barry Wade Print This Article

People lacking stable long-term employment and engaged only on a series of temporary, contract, casual or fixed-term positions are more likely to suffer mental health issues, according to a new study from McGill University in Canada.

Amélie Quesnel-Vallée, a medical sociologist at McGill University and the study's primary investigator, says as long as a person works in what are seen as disposable or second-class jobs they are susceptible to declining mental health.

She says: "This research shows that temporary work strains employee mental health, as contingent workers report more symptoms of depression and psychological distress than similarly employed workers who are not in these fixed-term positions."

Around 5.4million American workers and 1.4million UK workers hold a position they deem as temporary. Across the European Union the figure is over 6million.

The findings should be of "…particular interest for employers as they consider the long-term or global health impact of relying on a contingent workforce to meet current or future employment needs," said Quesnel-Vallée.

Findings from a Canadian medical study released in January also highlighted temporary workers' susceptibility to mental health issues. Job insecurity leads to anxiety and depression, which in turn can lead to other health problems, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health study stated.

Dr Charles Muntaner, who carried out the research, said: "On average, these types of employment conditions give a lot of flexibility to the employer but create a huge amount of insecurity, psychological anxiety and symptoms of depression among the workers because they don't know when they are going to lose their job or when they're going to find another one".

The research stated the mortality rate is higher for part-time and temporary workers than full-time workers, that workers with unsteady jobs were three to four times more likely to develop a form of mental illness, and that job-related stress results in a 50% increased risk of cardiac disease for workers with no job security.


Older Comments

...Duh! However, as companies continue to downsize and scale back their 'Perm' people to utilize 'Temporary' contractors / consultants, warm-bodies, etc. as needed, and pushing the issue of healthcare benefits to the 'middle man' providor, or leave it to the individual to worry about and get on their own, it is only going to get worse. People are screaming they want to keep their current healthcare and that Obama had better not touch it! Uh, hello....as more and more companies realize that the increasing costs of companies providing healthcare coverage, is not in the *stockholders* best interest, those with even the 'Cadillac' plans, will find them fading away. At least mental health parity law was passed under Bush, to make it equal to physical health coverage, but the challenge now, is NO coverage, or extremely high deductibles... The critics like to claim the UK medicine is 'Socialist' but at least their jobs do not dictate the their health care. As babyboomers get older, and find individual, non-group coverage impossible to afford, if even approved...the roar will get louder. We need health *COVERAGE* not *Insurance* for it's the insurance companies that have been driving this runaway train...all the way to their banks and multi-million dollar bonus plans.

DSWilson Houston Texas