The one factor causing depression and anxiety in the workplace | Johann Hari


I learned about nine causes of depression
and anxiety, for which there’s scientific evidence with different sets of solutions. But I’ll just give you a very quick example
of one. I noticed that lots of people I know who were
depressed and anxious. Their depression and anxiety focuses around
their work. So I started looking at, well, how do people
feel about their work? What’s going on here? Gallup did the most detailed study that’s
ever been done on this. What they found is 13 percent of us like our
work most of the time. Sixty-three percent of us are what they called
“sleepwalking” through out work. We don’t like it. We don’t hate it. We tolerate it. Twenty-four percent of us hate out jobs. If you think about that 87 percent of people
in our culture don’t like the thing they’re doing most of the time. They did send their first work email at 7:48
a.m. and clock off at 7:15 p.m. on average. Most of us don’t want to be doing it. Could this have a relationship to our mental
health? I started looking for the best evidence, and
I discovered an amazing Australian social scientist called Michael Marmot who I got
to know who discovered, the story of how he discovered it is amazing, but I’ll give
you the headline. He discovered the key factor that makes us
depressed and anxious at work: If you go to work and you feel controlled,
you feel you have few or limited choices you are significantly more likely to become depressed
or actually even more likely to have a stress-related heart attack. And this is because of one of the things that
connects so many of the causes of depression and anxiety I learned about. Everyone watching this knows that you have
natural physical needs, right. You need food. You need water. You need shelter. You need clean air. If I took them away from you, you would be
in trouble real fast, right. There’s equally strong evidence that we
have natural psychological needs. You’ve got to feel you belong; You’ve
got to feel your life has meaning and purpose; You’ve got to feel that people see you and
value you; You’ve got to feel you’ve got a future that makes sense. And if human beings are deprived of those
psychological needs they will experience extreme forms of distress. Our culture is good at lots of things. We’re getting less and less good at meeting
people’s deep underlying psychological needs. And this is one of the key factors why depression
is rising. And that opens, just to finish the point about
what that opens up, a very different way of thinking about how we solve these problems,
right. So if control at work is one of the drivers
of this depression and anxiety epidemic so I think well what would be an antidepressant
for that, right. What would solve that? In Baltimore I met a woman called Meredith
Keogh as part of an amazing transformation. Meredith used to go to bed every Sunday night
just sick with anxiety. She had an office job. It wasn’t the worst office job in the world,
she wasn’t being bullied, but she couldn’t bear the thought that this monotony was going
to be the next 40 years of her life, most of her life. And one day Meredith did an experiment with
her husband Josh. Josh had worked in bike stores since he was
a teenager. Again, it’s insecure, controlled work, as
you can imagine. And one day Josh and his friends in the bike
store just asked themselves: what does out boss actually do? They liked that boss. He wasn’t a particularly bad guy, but they
thought, “Well, we fix all the bikes.” They didn’t like this feeling of having
a boss. They decided to do something different. So Meredith quit her job. Josh and his friends quit their jobs. They set up a bike store that works on a different,
older principle. It’s a democratic cooperative, not a corporation. So the way it works is there is no boss. They take the decisions together democratically
by voting. They share out the good tasks and the bad
tasks. They share the profits. And one of the things that was so interesting
to me going there which is completely in line with Professor Marmot’s findings is how
many of them talked about how depressed and anxious they’d been when they worked in
a controlled environment and they weren’t depressed and anxious now. Now it’s important to say: it’s not like
they quit their jobs fixing bikes and went to become like Beyoncé’s backup singers,
right? They fixed bikes before, they fixed bikes
now. But they dealt with the factor that causes
depression and anxiety. As Josh put it to me, there’s no reason
why any business should be run in this top down, depressogenic, humiliating way, right. The modern corporation is a very recent invention. Think about how many people you know who feel
terrible today if they were going into work tomorrow to a workplace that they controlled
with their colleagues. If there had to be a boss, they elected the
boss and the boss was accountable to them. Where they chose the priorities for their
workplace. A lot of people would feel very differently. Now that is an antidepressant, right. Chemical antidepressants should absolutely
remain on the menu. They give some relief to some people. That’s valuable. But we need to look for antidepressants that
deal with the reasons why we’re depressed. So I was able to identify nine causes of depression
and anxiety and seven antidepressants like this which are actually about dealing with
the reasons why we feel this way, and not just blunting the symptoms.

About the author

Comments

  1. Except half the work force barely made it through high school and has no motivation or skills to contribute equally. This is a great idea but probably needs a pretty specific type of company and employees for it to work.

  2. It is not surprising that people become mentally ill in the current educational and economic system. Workers worry about being fired the same ways students worry about failing exams because they have tied their intrinsic value to their capacity to perform very specialised but limited tasks.

    I don't think the cure to this is to go out and 'start your own business' because not everybody knows how to run a business. They might be rightfully reluctant because they know that themselves. Depression in this context isn't about losing control or freedom, its about having no options.

    Therefore, the cure for people who are too afraid to quit their jobs due to financial reasons is to broaden their skills so they can have the freedom to apply for other jobs if they want to. They might not need to, but having that option itself is very reassuring. Yet, people often don't want to upskill themselves by giving excuses like "oh, I'm too old for this now", or blaming it on other commitments.

    So if people don't want to feel disempowered at their jobs, they better start adopting a lifelong habit of learning new skills rather than relying solely on their bosses to keep them employed.

  3. This concept is not new. It was tried on larger scales back in the early 90's. Often called things like "Total Quality Initiative." The concept works ok on small scales, like the bike shop mentioned in the video. However, it completely fails on larger scales. This is because small groups of people can generally agree on a direction for the company to take. Large groups not so much. If you don't want your business to grow very large, then go for it. But please don't think it will work for real entrepreneurship.

  4. How about you take a step back and realize Work in a capitalist society is debt Slavery. And Slavery is stressful, and depressing. The working class is just a new category of slave in a society where the top 1/10th of 1% reaps the entirety of the reward for the efforts of that working class.

    You silly fukpotato.

  5. Hmm nope. I wouldn’t mind having a boss as long he/she is competent and has the right values. There is nothing more frustrating than being paid the same as a person who does not pull their own weight at work and gets paid the same.

  6. You must be really careful of who you hire in that kind of company. Everyone need to have a high maturity and being able to both give and take criticism.

  7. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for years. I am currently medicated to help alleviate the stresses, though I am not solving the underlying problem. This gentlemen is a breathe of fresh air, everything he said made perfect sense to me.

  8. I thought this was going to be about men having to worry about being the next metoo hysteria victim. That's the number one problem going on at the moment in the workplaces I frequent.
    The feminists have us thinking each other is the enemy, just like they want.

  9. Choose your field of work wisely. I chose to avoid dealing with members of the public. I think that has helped me maintain some sanity.

  10. It always feels great when explained theoretically, but life isn't so easy! Reality is very much different. If you start asking for everyone's opinion you can never get any work done! Best way to stop getting depressed at the work place is simply picking a job you like and doing it knowing that your work is valued not only by others but by yourself. And that is not always your boss' responsibility but yours as well. Start by following what Martin Luther king said and have some self respect for yourself, and everything will work out!

  11. You bet your bippy anxiety is in large part caused by shitty work situations. And it is CHRONIC and extremely damaging to both mental *and* physical health.

  12. This guy is awesome, watch his lecture about addiction. This is what happens when Big Think gets big thinkers to explore big ideas instead of the agenda driven, mediocre SJW wimps they've had on lately.

  13. This is why we need to introduce democracy into the economy. Why is it that we have democracy for one half of our life, but the other half of our life is governed in a manner more similar to feudalism?

  14. finally, this sir is revolution, where was all this 10 years ago we could have been so ahead and i preached similar stuff forever since childhood. >.<

  15. Also a key factor in work related depression is time .Or lack of it. Time you waste all day in a office and on the commute .At the end of the day you only have a few hours to enjoy life .That, in my opinion, is very depressing.

  16. This system would work only if every employee in the company is self-motivated (highly conscientious), and in reality population dynamics works differently.

  17. Feel controlled. God dammit that's it. I even lose my common sense at workplace end up asking dumb question most of the time.

  18. I read his book and it was great. Really recommend it. We have been isolated by individualism, time to bring back community.

  19. Wonder if this extends outside of the workplace too. E.g. government control (Over-regulation, NSA spying, Communism, Fascism, Corruption) and corporate monopolies (Comcast)

  20. So what happens if one of these small businesses get big enough to be a corporation, an Democratic party of over 1000 employees seems unproductive and impossible to manage.
    Changes that could help the company would take forever to implement (as we can see in our own government)
    Management would not even exist because then people feel controlled
    And finally if the newer employees are just as valuable and the senior one's there's no real reason to improve is there ?

  21. I feel depressed right now and not sure why. I don't want to talk to anyone or do anything. I look stressed so people ask what's wrong so I just blame it on work or allergies. If I say I don't feel right then I will have to explain and I can't. So I'm ok alone. It will go away I know.

  22. I'd like John A. Smith to see this video, and maybe take I serious. And stop pretending to give us control with the dumb company surveys. Everyone sees through that bull shit.

  23. I think this is a good video. I find that when people are left to do things on their own they will not do them. I work in a big organization and people feel like they can get away with it. Motivation and engagement is something other large employers struggle with.

  24. Um, of course. Owners are the problem, and bosses are their proxy. You're halfway to reinventing socialism, you just need to also notice that they dominate as a class by controlling all capital.

  25. That would assume all CEOs don’t ever get depression or anxiety because they ultimately are in control. But certainly when things are out of your control it is a big trigger. Not sure it is just simply the operations side of a business.

  26. "There's equally strong evidence that we have natural psychological needs:

    -You gotta feel you belong
    -You gotta feel your life has meaning and purpose
    -You gotta feel that people see you and value you
    -You gotta feel you got a future that makes sense"

    …..Fuck, I don't have any of those! Except maybe meaning and purpose but even that's a little unclear to me.

  27. Thank you so much for this. It makes so much sense. I just started a new job 2 months ago and although I'm getting paid nearly £20k more I've been feeling sick and after getting several blood tests and a chest xray, the doctors have said there is nothing wrong. My friend suggested that maybe this is anxiety or depression from work because I'm working in a very controlling environment and I'm used to having freedom and being trusted by my employer. This has definitely made me feel better as well as made me rethink the job I'm in.

  28. I think a large percentage of depression is from a Spiritual deficiency. Namely, not having Jesus in ones life. When i started a saving relationship with Jesus, inner peace developed that was not there before…So, i obviously recommend taking that path…If anybody needs teaching on how to start & maintain a relationship with Jesus…the bible teaching site, teachingfaith com has a very good basic course series titled, 'change of mind'..30+ free streaming videos…

  29. Okay, this is all fine and dandy, now how about coming back to the real world. Reality check, a lot of jobs out there are pretty mundane and menial and basically minimum wage as well. I've never worked in one, but take a slaughterhouse for instance? Carving up cows, pigs & what have you all day long or maybe be on the kill floor and kill 2000 head of cows or pigs each and every day? Just saying there are a lot of awful jobs out there, in my opinion, that need to be performed that this happy feel good video doesn't address.
    Oh, and one last thing, how about losing your crappy job? I'm sure that can also cause anxiety and depression, can't it?

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  31. How did this get so many likes? It is so wrong.

    The talker is basically advocating communism. He doesn’t appear to understand or care that “bosses” have to take massive risks to start a company. They make the tough choices and have to pay their workers regardless if the company generates any income or not.

    It's only after the boss made the company function rather well that workers feel like they are unappreciated since they are completely removed from all hardships bosses had to traverse. They feel like they could do as good a job and that they don't need a boss, precisely because they are so ignorant about so many things.

    https://youtu.be/pOLmD_WVY-E

    Democracy is clearly ill suited to run a business. This is obviously true since companies are throwing huge swaths of money to any individual capable enough to take on the necessary responsibilities to run even a single department of a large company. This is also clear when you understand the “Pareto distribution”. People are unequal. Only very very few are extraordinarily good at something, while most are inept. Think of painters, plumbers, football players… Anything and everything, everywhere is like this.

    https://youtu.be/6Q0PCDEJWek

    It is because we do have hierarchies of competence that the West is so vastly rich and is spreading their secret of capitalism to anyone and everyone on the planet willing to listen. This is why the world as a whole is sharing unprecedented growth and abolition of extreme poverty.

    In 1820, 94% of the world's population lived in extreme poverty. In 1990, 34.8%, and in 2015, just 9.6%.
    https://humanprogress.org/article.php?p=770

    What is clearly lacking and the reason many people are depressed or sleep-walking at their job is people’s lack understanding of what is going on, and their own part in this remarkable human achievement. As long as you’re doing your job well, you are directly contributing to unprecedented human flourishing. This is something that is desperately needed to show to people. It’s not that we should revert to catastrophic and deadly leftist ideologies of the XX century, but that we are all collectively digging ourselves out of poverty and into unparalleled wealth and prosperity.

    https://youtu.be/yho3CaEeM50
    https://ourworldindata.org/a-history-of-global-living-conditions-in-5-charts
    https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_is_the_world_getting_better_or_worse_a_look_at_the_numbers

    Thank you for reading and have a nice day.

  32. Work, depression and anxiety are all synonimous in my book.
    I'm just suprised there was even "need" of a study to prove this…

  33. Part of this depression comes from the fact that the workplace is being flooded with psychotic women who will press assault charges if you say good morning in a way they do not like.

  34. A prescription that will not be filled in a capitalistic society as long as there is a large enough workforce available locally or importable. Capitalists would rather replace their entire workforce overtime rather than be accountable to it. Capitalism is the worlds wealthiest religion. The 1% will keep it that way. It may work for small business, however, large corporations will reject it with prejudice.

  35. in a coop, the workers can collectively hire a manager to manage the workers, and then the workers regularly review the manager's performance and can suggest modifications to the managers methods or even replace them. 40 hrs a week of like minded determinism and democratic entrepreneurship.

  36. Anyone want to be friend? Subscribe to my channel. I talk about my battle with depression as a cinematographer. Ill sub back.

  37. YEAH, that sick feeling on a Sunday night . He's correct. And now it's just grown and grown over the course of 30 years into my mental break down now. I want to work for me but I have no clue how to start .

  38. Worked in call centre for 10 years . Do everything watching the clock. Timed breaks, timed calls , don't be on pause long , don't be long in the loo so on and so forth, every time you pick up the phone , it's someone screaming at you. This takes its toll in the end . Anyone who works in a call centre knows what I am talking about . Anyone who never has won't get it. I never want to do this again but I need to get back into work and recruitment agencies just want to funnel you off into a similar role cos you can't branch out and do something different !!! They have no contingency plan for that ! You have to match the role ! It's a vicious hollow circle.

  39. Not many companies can operate efficiently and quickly without a strong hierarchy of command.
    Though I agree we should strive for more autonomy.

  40. So you're saying having a boss makes us anxious and alienated from our labour and the answer is to get rid of our bosses and control the means of production ourselves? So basically the answer is socialism?

  41. https://my.w.tt/Cec4NniBsS
    My poems about depression

    From depression to recovery to relapse……..a journey on the road to recovery

    Every person young , old, teenager, adult can connect with these short poems of mine on one level or the other.

  42. I live in Iraq and I know neither this country nor me have any future. I am so depressed and anxious. I just want to kill myself.

  43. I got severe anxiety from being self employed yet being severely controlled by a trainer. Happens to doctors, lawyers, dentists, vets, architects, etc… It's a horrible phase. Being employed again in a very horizontal team, so far so good.

  44. Need Proof ? Visit Garment Factory In Asian County Which Starting at 7.30 Am And Closing At 7.30PM And Working 6 Days Per Week, And Sometimes Working Full Day Shift Plus Sunday's Also And How Depressing Is THAT ?

  45. George Carlin: Given the condition of the World, depression is a natural response. It is the happy people who should be seeking treatment.

  46. I hear him saying the words, but all I can think of is "Who did he steal them from?"

    (If you don't get it, Google 'Johann Hari plagiarism')

  47. We need to take ownership of our work lives, TRULY. This can look like democratic working class organizations in the form of unions, councils / associations and work owned cooperatives

  48. I feel mentally tired and drained all the time, I'm not ready for summer vacation (edit: to end) yet 😢 !

  49. Surprise, surprise. CEO's don't care about that, they just want the profit. None will bother changing this system cuz it might not earn enough money for them. Especially customer service jobs.. I used to work in a school for kids with disabilities as a janitor. The pay was extremely poor, I was forced to live with parents, but guess what, I felt happy there. The director always treated everyone like her friend, while also having a "firm hand" to keep control, the kids would always come to me and show me their drawings, and ask me to draw something for them, I felt like people actually respected me, even with my severe anxiety, and I felt like I belong there.
    But time went on, and I got tired of being payed less than a minimum wage, so I decided to accept a friend's request to try to work as a cashier. The offer was tempting, the payment was tempting, the job hours were manageable. I got accepted.

    Few months later, and now I really wish I didn't leave my janitor job…. Yes, the pay and "freedom" is great, but I feel like I have lost my sense of self, I feel like I'm just a robot now, that's struggling to maintain my anxiety and sanity in order in front of every customer… And the high rank office workers, that control everything, def don't care, they mainly want us to just get the money, if not, we get warnings and threats..

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