Steady work and mental health - is there a connection? New research in WHO report points to a link between solid employment and health



    TORONTO, Sept. 15 /CNW/ - Despite low overall unemployment, Canada's
manufacturing industry has cut 88,000 jobs this year, with nearly all the
losses occurring in Ontario. Also, part-time employment has grown by
3.5 per cent in 12 months, much faster than the 0.9 per cent growth in full
time work. A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the social
determinants of health demonstrates that these kind of employment changes can
affect more than your wallet. Research from the Centre for Addiction and
Mental Health (CAMH)'s Dr. Carles Muntaner in the WHO report highlights the
profound impact of employment conditions on health.
    Dr. Muntaner and his research team found that poor mental health outcomes
are associated with precarious employment (e.g. temporary contracts or
part-time work with low wages and no benefits). When compared with those with
full-time work with benefits, workers who report employment insecurity
experience significant adverse effects on their physical and mental health.
    The research team have also found that stress at work is associated with
a 50 per cent excess risk of coronary heart disease, and there is consistent
evidence that jobs with high demands, low control, and effort-reward imbalance
are risk factors for mental and physical health problems (major depression,
anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders). Canada and a number of other
wealthy countries such as the U.K., the United States, Australia and New
Zealand all face similar challenges, Dr. Muntaner notes, because there's a
greater tolerance for inequities than in some other countries such as Sweden
and Denmark.
    "Access to healthcare is not the only determinate of a healthy
community," says Dr. Muntaner. "All aspects of our lifestyle, including how we
work, are intrinsically linked to our wellbeing and our quality and length of
life. If the face of Canada's ever-changing labour market, we must understand
and improve the relationship between health and work." In the report entitled
Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social
Determinants of Health, three overarching recommendations to achieve health
equality are made, including improving employment and working conditions, and
the report contributors call for - and outline steps to achieve - global,
national and local actions to improve employment and working conditions.
    This landmark study from the WHO is the culmination of three year's work
by an eminent group of policy makers, academics, former heads of state and
former ministers of health who have been investigating the differences between
and within countries that result from the social environment where people are
born, live, grow, work and age - the social determinants of health. Together,
they comprise the WHO's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, which
has produced Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on
the Social Determinants of Health.
    The data and recommendations on workplace came from the Employment
Conditions Knowledge Network (EMCONET), one of nine Knowledge Networks
established to inform the final report, chaired by Dr. Muntaner, Addictions
Nursing Research Chair and scientists in CAMH's Social Equity and Health (SHE)
research section, and Joan Benach, (SHE) adjunct scientist.
    The Commission presented this new report to the WHO's director-general,
and Dr. Muntaner recently presented the workplace data in a keynote speech at
the "5th World Conference on the Promotion of Mental Health and the Prevention
of Mental and Behavioral Disorders" in Melbourne, Australia on September 12,
2008.
    Visit WHO/Commission on Social Determinants of Health - Final Report
(http://www.who.int/social_determinants/final_report/en/) for more
information.

    The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest
mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's
leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH
combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health
promotion to transform the lives of people affected by mental health and
addiction issues.
    CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan
American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.





For further information:

For further information: To arrange interviews please contact Michael
Torres, Media Relations, CAMH, at (416) 595-6015


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