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How a Toxic Work Environment Can Affect Your Mental Health


Many workers work in a setting in which they do not feel welcomed or safe. Here’s how a toxic work environment can affect your mental health.

A toxic work environment can mean different things for different people, but in a nutshell, it refers to any environment in which the worker does not feel good or safe, for a variety of reasons:

These are not the types of environments anyone wants to be in for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. However, many workers work in a setting in which they do not feel welcomed or safe. Here’s how a toxic work environment can affect your mental health.

Stress related illness

Your Body Will Respond to the Environment

Nobody is strong enough to resits a toxic work environment and walk away unscathed – that’s not how the human body is built.

A toxic work environment presents many stressors, and the human body tries to handle these in any way that it can. From a mental and physical perspective, such stressors can inside the ‘fight or flight’ response as a way to survive. Your body is telling you to either flee the situation or fight. 

When the stressors come from your job, you usually can’t do either of these things. Instead, you are likely continuing to expose your body and mind to the things that are causing high levels of stress, which over time can lead to the development of mental health disorders.

Such disorders can be:

  • Self-esteem issues
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD (especially if you also experience a traumatic event at work)

There may even by physical symptoms attached to the emotional ones:

  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drastic weight loss or weight gain
  • Hair falling out, etc.

Stress affects people more than you may realize, which is why it’s essential for employers to ensure all their workers feel safe and welcomed at their place of employment. But what happens when they don’t?

What to Do If Your Work Is Hurting Your Mental Health

It’s important to speak up if your job is hurting you on an emotional level. Whether it is a colleague who is bullying you, a fast-paced job that demands too much from you, or any other signs of a toxic work environment, it is important to speak up.

If you develop a mental health condition as a result of your job, you have the option of filing a worker’s comp claim and get appropriate treatment for it. In Missouri, workers do not need a physical injury to explain a mental health issue, though you still need to prove that your problem is work-related.

Discuss your case with a St. Louis worker’s compensation lawyer. Based on your situation, they can recommend the best course of action to take.

Updated: September 11, 2020
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