IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail


Mental Health at Work : The Harmful Effects of Occupational Stress

Mental Health at Work : The Harmful Effects of Occupational Stress

Despite an impressive volume of experimental data showing the harmful effects of occupational stress on the health of both people and organizations, little is yet known about intervention processes in this area.

An interview with Jean-Pierre Brun, Director of the Chair in occupational health and safety management, Université Laval presents a five-stage intervention process based on a model used in occupational health and safety.

A variety of strategies may be used to prevent work-related stress and mental health problems. An organization that wants to take action may do so at three different levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. Strategies at the primary level directly address the causes of workplace stress. They aim to eradicate or reduce the causes of stress within the organization in order to lessen its negative effects on the mental health of individuals.

Secondary and tertiary strategies mainly deal with the consequences rather than the causes of workplace stress. Secondary prevention acts on personal factors and helps workers adapt better to their work environment, while tertiary prevention aims to reduce the suffering of individuals who have a work-related mental health problem.

“Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

- World Health Organization

Sometimes the cause and sometimes the consequence of mental health problems, interpersonal violence is a concern in workplaces.  Researchers have joined forces to develop a website offering a practical and proven approach aimed at sustainably preventing workplace violence in all types of organizations.