Just imagine it. Working only right hours and still getting paid for full-time employment.

In the past, unemployment has been linked to poor mental health, with experts suggesting part of the reason being that work offers benefits including time structure, social contacts and sense of belonging. However, there had been something regarding employment that was never really thought of until researchers dug deeper – how much of employment do you need to get the benefits of a healthy mind?

Researchers are now claiming they have found a positive impact on a person’s mental health based on moving from unemployment to a paid job, and this boost is gained from working up to eight hours, or the equivalent of one day, a week. According to this research, there is no extra benefits in a person’s mental health from working any longer than this.

Brendan Burchell, a co-author of this research from the University of Cambridge, comment how they drew their conclusions by analysing responses based on a UK survey that is conducted every year from 209. The primary focus was on the data from more than 71,000 participants ged 16-64 who provided answers for two or more years. The questions involved in the survey included household income, age, dependents, and illness. The results indicated that going from unemployment to employment reduced people’s risk of falling into the ‘poorest mental health’ category – described as the lowest fifth of the scores collected – by 30%. The reduction was the same despite whether the participant worked one day a week or more.

However, the research has its limitations as it doesn’t prove that work fuels better mental health, only that there is a link. Additionally, it doesn’t state whether the participants undertook other activities such as exercising that can relieve daily work stress, or what type of jobs people do.

Originally written by Nicola Davis on The Guardian

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