Occupational stress and illness is very common nowadays. As people strive harder to earn a living and have a means to sustain their lifestyle, getting stressed and becoming ill due to work has become inevitable. This is why many psychologists have argued that the field needs to be more proactive and find psychological solutions to prevent a person from suffering occupation stress and illness. This is why occupational health psychology emerged.
Occupational health psychology is concerned primarily on the analysis and prevention of work-related stress and illnesses. It focuses on the psychosocial aspects of workplaces and how it can contribute to the development of work-related stress and illnesses. It is concerned with the physical as well as mental health consequences of workplace characteristics. This field also focuses on how changes in the workplace can affect and benefit the worker without adversely affecting efficiency.
As mentioned above, psychologists dealing with this field are concerned with the various characteristics workplaces have relating to different physical and other health problems. Here are a few of the characteristics they look into in workplaces:
- Decision Liberty – to see if workers have the freedom to decide on their own or if their boss dictates everything that they have to do. Suppressed decision liberty can lead to stress for the worker.
- Psychological Workload – different roles within a company has varying psychological workload. One may have a heavier workload than the rest which can lead to the worker taking on that role to feel more stressed and ill than his colleagues.
- Effort-Reward Balance – one thing to keep workers motivated and rewarding them enough for all the effort they put in their job. The less rewarded workers feel for their efforts the more stressful they feel.
- Supportive Environment – it corporate offices, politics can be commonplace. Sometimes competition to reach the higher position is tougher and tighter than ever. This can lead to stress and for workers to become mentally ill. What they need is a supportive environment wherein people around will be happy for one’s achievements instead of try to bring him down.
These characteristics helps psychologists find out if a job will produce happier workers or will it result in a psychologically distressed worker.
There are many factors that come into play when it comes to experiencing psychological distress in the workplace. Here are some of the most common factors occupation health psychologists found to be greatly affecting workers:
- Adverse working conditions – it has already been proven by a number of studies that adverse working conditions produce psychological distress. If a person works in an aversive working environment, it is most likely that they will suffer psychological distress which can lead to other various work-related illnesses. Job satisfaction is linked to this factor because no matter how aversive a working environment is if the worker is satisfied with his job, there is a lesser chance of developing psychological distress.
- Economic insecurity – there have already been studies that show persistent economic insecurity even if the person has not lost his job yet can cause depressive symptoms such as psychological distress and debilitating health.
Occupational health psychology is a growing field that can help employees work better and feel better about their work and their lives.