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Mental Health Issues Affecting Large

Mental Health Issues Affecting Large
Number of Temporary Workers– Workforce Management

Workers hired for temporary or contract jobs face a higher risk of developing
mental health problems such as depression, according to research by a medical
sociologist at Montreal-based McGill University.

The study, based on records collected biennially between 1992 and 2002 from the
U.S. National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, focuses on workers who don’t
expect to be with their current jobs for more than one year. It was presented
for the first time Sunday, August 9, in San Francisco at the American
Sociological Association’s annual meeting.

“Employers need to be mindful of the fact that obviously they have economic
imperatives and there is temptation to go with a more flexible workforce, but
the bottom line is that it may not be as obvious as they might predict,”
Quesnel-Vallee says.

It would make sense that the paper’s findings are more acute today given the
economic environment, says Janice Dragotta, senior consultant, health and
productivity, in the San Francisco office of Watson Wyatt Worldwide.

Other than the instability of their jobs, another contributing factor to
temporary workers’ inclination to mental health issues could be that they often
lack social ties to the rest of the workforce, she says.

“They may not have the opportunity to develop relationships with others or have
a sense of work-family that others do in their work lives,” she says.

Also, many times temporary workers don’t have access to health care benefits, so
if they are suffering from depression or other issues, they can’t see a doctor
without paying out of pocket, she says.

“If they are beginning to feel some anxiety or depression, they may have less
access to potential health care,”