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A study conducted by researchers from the University of South Australia and led by UniSA’s Psychosocial Safety Climate Observatory found that a toxic workplace could be damaging to employees mental health and increases their chances lf developing depression by 300%. 

There are about 300 million people globally suffering from depression. This number shows no sign of going down. For this reason, researchers have started to investigate the workplace to find out if it could be the cause of the problem.

The researchers followed several workers for a year to see who was diagnosed with severe depression. They then checked to see if the conditions at their workplace might have put them at risk for mental health issues.

Impact of workplace bullying

Researchers found that while workplace bullying affected the bullied employees it didn’t just harm them. It can also affect the perpetrators and employees who witness the bully. A whole department can experience burnout because of bullying.

The study found that burnout and bullying in the workplace are more common in institutions that do not prioritise their employees’ mental health. Men were also more likely to suffer from depression if their psychological health was not considered. Healthy, committed workers generally feel more valued by their bosses.

According to Dr Amy Zadow, a researcher, companies that make unreasonable demands, don’t acknowledge their employees’ hard work, don’t reward them or give them autonomy place them at a higher risk for developing depression.

Stress is a trigger for bullying and burnout

Professor Maureen Dollard, another researcher, adds that lack of support for stress prevention and not consulting over workplace safety and health issues have a negative impact on psychological health as well.

Low psychosocial safety climate (PSC) was often linked with bullying and emotional fatigue. PSC refers to the practices and systems that protect the mental health of employees at the workplace.

Dollard says that in a workplace, stress acts as a trigger for bullying and in some situations, it is expected. It can be prevented by the company which should prioritise mental health.

The issue of mental health is not just crucial for the employees. Worker burnout can be costly to an organisation. Therefore, companies need to work on their prevention.