Could bullying lead to mental disability among workers?

Bullying brings to mind the picture of girls picking on each other in the schoolyard. Or even a more current idea of bullying would be teenagers virtually picking on each other through Facebook. A new study places bullying in sort of the adult version of a schoolyard: the workplace.

Researchers in Finland studied several thousand workers and evaluated whether any felt that they were bullied at work. The study also looked at the rate of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. It also identified whether workers claimed they suffered from insomnia.

Based on the workplace health study, bullying between colleagues could be the cause of depression, insomnia and anxiety in some workers. It sounds like it isn't just kid-on-kid teasing and harassment that needs to be fixed. Bullying is also a matter of worker health and safety.

Mental health is a sensitive medical matter. So many who suffer from a problem like depression are too ashamed to identify the problem, admit it and be treated for it. The study suggests that women are the least likely compared to men to get medicinal treatment for their work-related mental health issues.

The study suggests that workplace bullying moves workers to get prescriptions such as anti-depressants. It isn't just the direct targets of supposed office bullying who mentally suffer; it is the witnesses of such colleague interaction who also suffer.

A healthy and safe work environment is about more than having proper fire exits and non-slip floors. Mental health can have a big impact on a person's ability to perform his job and his overall quality of life.

When so many are already hesitant to say that they are suffering from depression or anxiety, it is probably even more difficult for them to say, "I'm depressed and it's because of the way my boss talks to me." In this economy, saying anything negative about one's job, even if one's health relies on it, can be scary.

Do you believe that workplace bullying is a problem? Have you experienced or seen it in your own life?

Our law firm works with workers who believe that they are victims of an unhealthy work environment. Visit our Disabling Conditions page to learn more about what types of injuries and illnesses can substantiate a disability insurance claim.

Source: ABC News, "Workplace Bullying Common, Could Lead to Medication Use," Dr. Jennifer Austin, Dec. 16, 2012

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