The changing landscape of workplaces has drawn heightened attention to the needs and expectations of employees nationwide regarding the issues of work–life balance and mental health support.
The recent survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) sheds light on the prevalence of toxic workplaces and their detrimental impact on mental health. Of the data coming out of this survey, most startling was the revelation that 19% of workers reported their workplace as somewhat or very toxic. Even more alarming, those in such environments are three times more likely to suffer mental health harm at work than those individuals who are in nontoxic settings.
This blog discusses the importance of these findings, what employers can do in light of this data, and the role mental health providers can play in supporting individuals facing toxic work situations.
Understanding the impact of a toxic work environment
The APA survey brought to light the destructive toll a workplace can have on an individual’s mental well-being.
According to the survey, more than one in five workers revealed they've suffered mental health harm at work. Even worse, reported cases of harassment have jumped from 14% in 2022 to 22% in 2023. More than two-thirds of employees report experiencing workplace stress in the last month, with 57% reporting negative impacts that are associated with burnout.
Other notable findings from the survey include:
No matter the field, it is clear that employers need customized strategies to combat toxicity in various work environments.
Proactive steps for employers
To foster a supportive and mentally healthy work environment, employers can take several proactive measures to combat toxicity and promote mental health:
The role of mental health providers
For mental health providers, it's essential to address the challenges faced by individuals who are working in toxic environments. Some notable numbers from the survey: individuals who reported a toxic workplace were more than twice as likely to report that their overall mental health was fair or poor than those who did not report a toxic workplace (58% versus 21%). Of those who reported working in a toxic environment, 76% also conveyed that their work environment has a negative impact on their mental health.
Here are some strategies you can use with individuals who are experiencing workplace stress that impacts their mental health:
The results of the APA survey underscore how widespread the problem of workplace stress has become and emphasize what a toll a toxic workplace takes on mental health. Although workplaces tend to be one of the greatest areas of stress, they can also drive change by emphasizing the importance of self-care and wellbeing. Those involved in the mental health field can provide support to individuals who are experiencing workplace stress but also need to be cognizant of their own workplaces, as well. It's time to shape healthier work environments that empower everyone to thrive.
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American Psychological Association. (May 2023). 2023 Work in America Survey.
U.S. Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being. (2022).