Yet if we knew anything about childhood, it might not help us to get stressed during our jobs. The research actually shows it’s not about work. With enormous disposable income, young people also are being treated by professionals to think of their careers as an addiction. The British Neuropsychopharmacology Research Group has found that while the phenomenon has had a long standing influence on behavior, psychological well-being is also part of it. To those who might expect the proclivity to be confined to high-earning professionals, they might be pleasantly surprised to learn that the extent to which children in more deprived countries have a need for stress relief is much higher than in countries that are more wealthy. In some cases, “depressive behaviour” in children is almost three times more common than in the developed world. How does it compare? Imagine going to McDonald’s once a week for three years — that’s how many times this is recommended by all the medical societies. Clearly there is a poor link between stressful conditions and unethical behaviour. The accumulated evidence also indicates that both the financial crisis and climate change may have a causal influence on distress and depression among youth and adults alike. Poverty and economic inequality usually go hand in hand. Education doesn’t remove this but a range of preventive strategies by the public and the provision of economic security and social support can alleviate distress and reduce anxiety. In response to public demands for more mental health services in health care, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has suggested more targeted services for parents of children with difficulty with behavioural problems. It is their theory that children with particular difficulties are likely to be under more pressure as they mature to cope with additional social challenges, making it more likely for them to display “bereavement and anger problems”, which are typical of parents of children with behaviour difficulties. In parallel, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has also argued that more targeted services should be provided to parents who are suffering “mental ill health”. This might involve more treatment for stress-related disorders and early intervention for mental illnesses like depression. An analysis of these proposals will be published in the summer. Businesses should also take note. Some of the information about stress-related disorders that employers could glean could help prevent cases of work-related anxiety and stress, which cause many cases of depression. A survey commissioned by the UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists found that less than half of employers have a policy on stress. There are some providers who are ready to provide a range of services and supports in their workplaces for those affected by mental illness. One is Otolorike Dream. Its analysis of workplace stress suggests that up to one quarter of people who are “high risk” have a reasonable expectation that they will be contacted for mental health services on a regular basis. Healthways and Achieving Healthy Living provide services for employees with mental health or substance abuse problems. A new developer-led online service called Worker Connect will link employers directly with employees who need referrals and general help. Training should be better targeted — far too few workers receive help they need. Health intervention services should encompass not only working-age adults, but also those carers who look after children, older people and the seriously mentally ill. Up to one-third of people with moderate mental health disorders are part of the so-called invisible worker group. A support system is needed for this group.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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