A new study by the University of Cambridge in collaboration with the University of Salford has found that eight hours of employment in a week can boost mental wellbeing significantly. But any more hours then this show no further increase in mental health. Scientists think that some paid work should be engaged in by the entire adult population.
Moreover, as per the researchers, automation in today’s era can be helpful in redistributing work such that everyone can enjoy the benefits. Some people think that with the use of automation, work will reduce for all such that unemployment with arise while others think automation will help promote more relaxation.
This work has been published in the Social Science and Medicine journal. Paid employment doesn’t only improve one’s financial situation, but it also has psychological benefits. For instance, it increases one’s self-esteem and allows for social inclusion. Researchers involved in the study set out to find what would be the right amount of work for optimal mental health.
For this purpose, they looked at how changes in the work hours were associated to mental wellbeing and life satisfaction in more than 70,000 UK residents between the years 2009 and 2018. It was found that when people moved from unemployment or stay-at-home parenting to working for pay for 8 hours or less a week, their wellbeing improved as the risk of mental health problems went down by an average of 30%.
However, an increase in work hours any more than this didn’t raise mental wellbeing any further. The benefits of working for the standard 37 to 40 hours were not more. Therefore, the dose of working hours that the researchers found optimal for mental wellbeing was maximum one day as anything more than that didn’t prove to be additionally beneficial.
This study also found that while men had an increase of 30% in their life satisfaction by working for 8 hours, women needed to work for 20 hours to notice the same benefit. Researchers proposed that jobs can be redistributed for employment for all in such a way that working hours are reduced. However, this needs to be followed for everyone so as to avoid socioeconomic inequalities.
Previous researches have focused on how much sleep, vitamin C, and other factors are required for ample mental wellbeing, but little work has been done on how many hours a week one needs to work for mental health. This latest report has found this important measurement. It is already established that not working at all can have a detrimental impact on wellbeing as it can make one feel less confident about how he is using his time, skills, and more.
As co-author of the study, Brendan Burchell said, “We know unemployment is often detrimental to people’s wellbeing, negatively affecting identity, status, time use, and sense of collective purpose. We now have some idea of just how much paid work is needed to get the psychosocial benefits of employment — and it’s not that much at all.”