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Employment is a key determinant of mental health. It encompasses job status (e.g., employed, unemployed, looking for work, or retired), and characteristics of work (e.g. job quality, occupational position, and job security). Job quality can be influenced by job satisfaction, which is the extent to which people like or dislike their job, and work-life balance, which is broadly defined as the subjective perception that one has enough time for both work and leisure (1,2).




Risk and/or Protective Factor

While good employment is protective of mental health, unemployment has been linked to increased stress, depression and anxiety (3). Job insecurity similarly has an adverse effect on mental health (4). Contract types including short term, temporary or zero-hour (contracts with no minimum of paid hours) are associated with increased anxiety (5).

Negative working conditions can also contribute to mental health difficulties. Job strain, night shifts and effort-reward imbalance have been linked to increased depressive symptoms (6–8). This can have an impact on job satisfaction. Low work satisfaction is associated with increased anxiety and depression, while high satisfaction is associated with mental well-being (9). On the other hand, having positive relationships with co-workers can enhance well-being (10). Furthermore, poor work-life balance is suggested to be a strong predictor of mental health outcomes, including depression and anxiety (11).



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2.        Guest DE. Perspectives on the Study of Work-life Balance. Soc Sci Inf [Internet]. 2002 Jun 29 [cited 2021 Jan 11];41(2):255–79. Available from:

3.        Paul KI, Moser K. Unemployment impairs mental health: Meta-analyses. J Vocat Behav. 2009 Jun 1;74(3):264–82.

4.        Rönnblad T, Grönholm E, Jonsson J, Koranyi I, Orellana C, Kreshpaj B, et al. Precarious employment and mental health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Scand J Work Environ Heal. 2019;45(5):429–43.

5.        Marmot M, Allen J, Boyce T, Goldblatt P, Morrison J. Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years on. 2020.

6.        Madsen IE, Nyberg ST, Magnusson Hanson LL, Ferrie JE, Ahola K, Alfredsson L, et al. Job strain as a risk factor for clinical depression: systematic review and meta-analysis with additional individual participant data. Psychol Med [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2021 Jan 20];47:1342–56. Available from:

7.        Angerer P, Schmook R, Elfantel I, Li J. Night Work and the Risk of Depression, A Systematic Review. Dtsch Arztebl Int [Internet]. 2017 Jun 16 [cited 2021 Jan 20];114(24):404–11. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC5499504/?report=abstract

8.        Rugulies R, Aust B, Madsen IEH, Burr H, Siegrist J, Bultmann U. Adverse psychosocial working conditions and risk of severe depressive symptoms. Do effects differ by occupational grade? Eur J Public Health [Internet]. 2013 Jun 1 [cited 2021 Jan 20];23(3):415–20. Available from:

9.        Faragher EB, Cass M, Cooper CL. The relationship between job satisfaction and health: A meta-analysis. Occup Environ Med [Internet]. 2005 Feb 1 [cited 2021 Jan 26];62(2):105–12. Available from: http://www.cochrane.

10.      Steffens NK, Haslam SA, Schuh SC, Jetten J, van Dick R. A Meta-Analytic Review of Social Identification and Health in Organizational Contexts. Personal Soc Psychol Rev [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2021 Jan 27];21(4):303–35. Available from:

11.      Kotera Y, Green P, Sheffield D. Work-life balance of UK construction workers: relationship with mental health. Constr Manag Econ [Internet]. 2020 Mar 3 [cited 2021 Jan 20];38(3):291–303. Available from: