Does Job Stress Contribute to Mental Illnesses?

Workplace stress is defined by the World Health Organization as ‘the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope’, and elaborated that it can be caused ‘by poor work organization (the way we design jobs and work systems, and the way we manage them), by poor work design (e.g., lack of control over work processes), poor management, unsatisfactory working conditions and lack of support from colleagues and supervisors. While workplace stress, stigma and attitudes towards employees suffering from stress or mental illness have been researched and interventions developed to address them better, globally, it still remains an oft-neglected aspect across different industries and countries, including India, and only a few of the learnings are actually implemented.

International laws have been in force for many decades to protect human rights of employees at workplace, and the key ones being Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Article 27 of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. However, the execution of policies is variable and often suboptimal. Moreover, low- and middle-income countries where one has the largest population in working age groups, continue to lag behind in conducting or identifying suitable interventions, and often do not have adequate policies in place to prevent discrimination against employees with mental disorders.

For my experience with stress, it mainly comes from the burden of school homeworks and projects. Homework is a huge part of high school coursework, especially if one takes Advanced Placement (AP) or IB classes in high school. According to an article on coping with school stress on, ways one could limit their stress in school is by keeping a planner, studying in quiet areas, and studying earlier in the day rather than late in the evening.

By: Owen Wong


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