Vocation Types and Associated Mental Health Issues | BrainsWay

Vocation Types and Associated Mental Health Issues

Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness,” this according to the Father of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. The above statement likely represented Freud’s view on such concepts as relationships, one’s contributions to society, and creativity, as well as the central roles they play in our lives.

mental health and work

In the time since Freud’s above statement, striving toward productivity has been criticized, as the importance of being able to unwind and detach was given greater attention. Nevertheless, love, mental health, and work all remain key aspects of modern living, with recent years articulating the connections between work and mental health issues.

The following article aims to explore the dynamics between one’s vocation and their well-being. Continue reading to gain a better understanding about the nature of their relationship.

The Importance of Work in Modern Society

One’s vocation can reflect a number of central facets of their life, such as their personal and familial needs, their financial survival and sense of stability, their decision-making abilities, their personal development, their interests, and their role in society, to name but a few.

Members of modern society mostly rely on their job’s wages for their own prosperity, as well as that of any individuals under their care, such as children or those who are unable to work. Individuals may derive a sense of pride or identity from their chosen vocation and choose to enter a certain profession due to an initial interest, tradition, a vocation’s status in society, or an end-goal they wish to attain.

The Importance of Mental Health

Defined as one’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being, mental health has gained a good deal of attention over the past several decades, and is currently viewed as a major part of how one evaluates their life, and the personal satisfaction they are able to draw from it.

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not separate mental health from physical health. Instead, it views them intrinsically, as a holistic unit that affects an individual’s overall health and well-being. It is also interesting to note that the WHO’s take on well-being is that of a positive, beneficial existence, and not merely the absence of disease or other types of hardship.

The Interplay Between Vocation and Well-Being

Different job types and one’s mental health state, job stress, and and workplace conditions are a few of the ways one’s work and their mental well-being affect one another. Research underscoring how one’s vocation can relate to their mental health has shed some light on the resulting effects those in a certain field are more likely to experience.

Office Jobs

While working at an office job may remove dealing with strenuous, physical labor, it has introduced a number of other stressors—and resulting risk factors—to many individuals’ daily routine.

Office jobs often demand very long hours, usually at a sedentary position, and while carrying out stressful tasks, or meeting tight deadlines. Such environments have been shown to be conducive to a number of mental health issues, including:

mental health and jobs

First Responders

One field to receive a fair amount of attention is the field of first responders. The first to arrive in cases of emergency, first responders include medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and paramedics, as well as police personnel and firefighters. Their jobs require them to offer lifesaving, immediate care to those caught in perilous situations.

Yet as vital as such work may be, the exposure to horrific scenarios that may include human remains, individuals in severe agony, or widespread destruction, can leave first responders dealing with the detrimental effects their jobs have on their own psyche.

Several mental health concerns have been found to appear in higher rates among first responders. They include:

Due to increased rates of the above mental health issues, efforts are being made to address such concerns when they arise, and to preemptively offer first responders a more supportive work environment. Steps to improve their overall well-being include incident debriefing, employee assistance programs geared toward these professions, behavioral health units, and promoting a healthier lifestyle.

Workers at Low-Paying Jobs

Research focusing on wage levels has discovered that jobs offering lower wages are associated with faster mental decline, and a higher rate of dementia. More specifically, continually working for lower pay during one’s peak earning years has been linked to the accelerated decline of the individual’s memory, with men being particularly vulnerable to this association.

Though the reason here remains unclear, researchers have suggested that a mediating variable is at play, with lower wages often leading to lower access to quality healthcare, which then leads to a more rapid mental decline later in life.

Work Involving Physical Labor

The demands of hard, manual labor can take its toll on an individual’s mental health, as well as their body. In fact, mental health professionals who had worked in physically demanding jobs were found to require a mental health disability pension, once they reached the age of retirement.

This was particularly found to be true among care assistants within a medical setting, such as a hospital or rehabilitation center. Such professionals’ jobs have a physical component that includes lifting patients, physically supporting them, washing them, and so forth. Their daily work often requires that they remain in a twisted position or hold themselves in a strenuous posture.

As a result, care assistants who had performed physical labor as part of their jobs were found to receive higher rates of mental health disability pension upon their retirement. Musculoskeletal deterioration was also found to occur at significantly higher rates, among care assistants and other medical professionals, such as hospital ward assistants and midwives, whose jobs included physical exertion.

Aiming for a Work-Rest Balance

Maintaining a level of stability in one’s life can be a challenging feat to accomplish, particularly in light of the demands of their work and private lives. Yet it is this balance that can help stave off and protect from the serious ramifications that a lifetime of vocational health risks can take on one’s well-being. To this end, being aware of workplace stressors, advocating for better working conditions, and weighing alternative vocations can be important aspects not only of their work and career path, but of their sense of agency within these contexts.