Serious disabling medical conditions can arise from workplace stress. A recent study showed that people working long hours (11+) are more than twice as likely to experience major depression than those who work only 7-8 hours a day. Another study discovered that stressed workers have a 67% greater risk of heart disease. And other studies mention that “long working hours” lead to more risks of anxiety and a reduced ability to both think and sleep well.
Marianna Virtanen, one of the newest study’s authors, recently gave some tips to workers on ABCNews.com. One of her tips is to: “Make a distinction between work and leisure; don’t skip your holidays; take care of your health and well-being, especially sleep and exercise.” With Americans now working more hours than many of their counterparts in other countries, workers need to be proactive in taking caring of themselves.
But it isn’t just up to the workers. Psychological illnesses and depression cost companies money and result in less worker productivity, according to the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Without buy-in from employers and workers, the personal and corporate costs from psychological illness will never be reduced.
Unfortunately, Nebraska law makes it very difficult to recover workers’ compensation for many of the problems that are obviously associated with workplace stress. Emergency Responders are the only Nebraska workers covered by law for mental problems arising from stress. While these workers clearly deserve to receive treatment and compensation due to their exposure to horrifically stressful events, they are not the only workers who should be eligible for these benefits. Science shows other workers need the law on their side as well. Workers’ compensation law should evolve to help workers with all work-related health problems.