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Exploring anxiety
Exploring anxiety

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4.5 Is work good or bad for your mental health?

It has been argued that beyond simple economic rewards and material benefits, work helps to develop us as individuals, building our skills and improving mental well-being (status, confidence, self-esteem in doing a job well). Although employment can be stressful, difficult and exhausting at times, it can also be a source of satisfaction for many people. While being at work during periods of mental ill health can be understandably difficult, barriers in the workplace and the wider community can mean that people with mental health problems have less access to work opportunities when they are no longer experiencing ill health. Return to gainful employment is an important aspect of recovery from ill health for many people. You can read further on this topic in the OpenLearn course on Work and mental health [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Activity 6 Reflecting on the significance of work to well-being

Timing: Allow 10 minutes

Think about work that you do. This can be paid employment, voluntary work, household work or work as a carer, for example. Based on your own personal experience, reflect on some of the benefits and difficulties associated with the work. Focus in particular on the impact that the work has on your well-being.

  • Make a note of some of the benefits of the work.

  • Make a note of some of the difficulties associated with the work.

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Work can have both positive and negative impacts on our mental state and wellbeing. Work and employment can be significant in terms of defining who we are, our confidence, self-esteem and personal development. It can help us build relationships and develop our skill sets, and the financial rewards are helpful. However, work-related stress, and difficulties at work, including problems with co-workers, can also lead to mental distress.