Childhood Mental Health Problems Blight Adult Working Life

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ScienceDaily (Apr. 5, 2008) — Mental health problems in childhood blight adult working life, suggests research published ahead of print in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. And problems in working life are associated with mid life depression and anxiety.

Living in rented accommodation, having a longstanding illness, no qualifications, and no partner were all linked to depression and anxiety in mid life.

But so too were workplace stressors, including little control over decisions, low levels of social support, and high levels of job insecurity. These stressors doubled to quadrupled the risk of depression and anxiety.

Internalising behaviours in early childhood and adulthood strongly predicted poor quality working life, with many work stressors. Internalising behaviours are usually defined as depression or lack of concentration, as opposed to externalising behaviours, such as bullying and disruption.

Although mental health problems in early childhood and adulthood did not fully explain the mid life depression, these could have a knock-on effect, suggest the authors. Mental health problems in childhood could affect the ability to pass exams and gain qualifications, so blighting an individual’s prospects of getting well paid and satisfying work.

And people who have experienced mental illness early in their lives may also opt for less demanding, low status work, because it might be more manageable, but at the same time, less rewarding and more stressful.

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