Job insecurity and difficulties balancing work and family life are key components of mental health issues in the workplace

These findings, disclosed today, are the results of the largest research study ever conducted on the subject in Canada. The study was undertaken by researchers at the Université de Montréal, Concordia University and Université Laval with the support of Standard Life. Researchers focused on a series of factors that may lead to the development of psychological distress, depression and burnout at work. More than 2,100 employees at 63 companies were interviewed about their personal and professional lives. The results of this questionnaire were supported by cortisol measurements. This research methodology is a first in the field of study of mental health factors in the workplace. Cortisol is a hormone found in saliva and recognized as an indicator of an individual's stress level.

The researchers responsible for the study, professors Alain Marchand and Pierre Durand of the Université de Montréal's School of Industrial Relations, are convinced the impacts of an individual's personal and work-related problems on his or her mental health cannot be considered separately. Professor Durand explains: "The strength of this research is that it takes a large number of factors into account. These include work organization, family and employment relationships and certain personality traits, such as self-esteem, as well as other potential risk factors, like chronic illness or alcohol misuse."

The study also provided an opportunity to review approximately 65 corporate practices designed to reduce stress and improve employee health. These practices range from operating a company fitness centre to implementing shorter working hours. "The good news is that we know it is possible to introduce effective measures to reduce mental health risks," says Eric Pfeiffer, Senior Consultant, Health and Wellness, at Standard Life. "The results of this study will provide our customers with additional motivation to adopt an integrated prevention approach tailored to their specific business needs."

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