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Mental Health

Toxic Workplaces Can Lead to Poor Mental Health

— August 4, 2023

An unhealthy work environment can take a toll on employee mental health.

For many people, going to work each day is a chore rather than something they enjoy, and this is often because of the toxic environment that exists in that workplace, according to a recent survey. One of the fundamental problems with a toxic workplace environment is that it not only has a negative impact on the productivity of the company, but it also takes a mental health toll on those who work there. The mental health problems that come with a toxic environment in the office are not likely to be left within the walls of that office, as they will generally travel home with the workers as well.

This survey was performed by the American Psychological Association (APA) and included over 2,500 people. Of those who were surveyed, nearly 20% responded that they feel their workplace is at least somewhat, if not very, toxic. That’s a significant number, and if that percentage is extrapolated out across the entire working population, the conclusion is that millions of people are facing this reality. That means, millions of people are dreading going into work and are carrying this discontent home to their families, impacting both their mental health and the health of those around them.

Toxic Workplaces Can Lead to Poor Mental Health
Photo by Yan Krukau from Pexels

Of course, with any survey, it does need to be said that the results can be impacted by the perspectives of the people who are surveyed. For example, a workplace that one person identifies as “very toxic” might seem perfectly normal to another person. However, the perspective of each person is really all that matters here, as feeling like a workplace is toxic means it will likely have a negative mental health impact on the people who hold that opinion.

The next step with this study is to see how toxic workplace environments specifically impact the people who experience them day after day. On that point, more than half of the people who said their workplace was toxic said that work was taking a negative toll on their mental health. As a point of comparison, when that same question was asked of people who don’t feel that their workplace is toxic, only 15% believed that their mental health was negatively impacted as a result of their employment.

It’s unfortunate, but perhaps not surprising, that the group of workers who were mostly likely to face mental health challenges from work were from the customer service sector. This area is notorious for the difficult toll it can take on the mental health of people who have to deal with customers and clients day after day. These people aren’t often treated as well as they should be, and this wears on their perspective and outlook in the long run.

As is typically the case when things need to change within a work environment, that change will almost certainly need to come from within. The impetus will have to be demands from workers to address the points that generate toxicity and lead to declining mental health. When workers talk openly with each other about the problems they face and develop potential solutions, those solutions can be taken to higher-ups with confidence and resolve. In this way, workplaces can offer more supportive, comfortable, sustainable environments for all employees.


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