Women's long hours 'affect mental health'

Women's long hours 'affect mental health'

New UK research has found that women who work long hours may have a higher risk of depression, and working weekends may up the risk for both men and women. "So the context in which a person is working long hours may be just as important as the time spent working". Over two-thirds of men worked weekends compared with around half the women. The women who clocked hours on all or most weekends worked low-skilled jobs and had less satisfaction with their jobs.

For the research, Weston and colleagues assessed data available for more than 23,000 adults participating in the Understanding Society: the United Kingdom household longitudinal study.

Weekend working was linked to a higher risk of depression among both sexes, with women who worked for all or most weekends reported 4.6% more depressive symptoms than those who worked only on weekdays. This tool has been tracking the health and well-being of a representative sample of 40,000 households across the United Kingdom since 2009. For the study, they used a validated general health questionnaire (GHQ-12) and measured depressive symptoms in these participants.

Women working for long hours can develop depressive symptoms.

Both men and women who work on most or all weekends are more likely to become depressed than those who only work during the week, the research also found.

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The study showed that men tended to work longer hours in paid work than women, and having children affected men's and women's work patterns in different ways: while mothers tended to work fewer hours than women without children, fathers tended to work more hours than men without children.

Researchers at University College London and Queen Mary University of London said women who worked long hours were often in stressful male-dominated professions while also having to take on more domestic chores and child rearing responsibilities when at home. In other words, the more weekends people worked, the more likely they were to report experiencing depression.

Gill Weston, the study's lead author and a PhD candidate at the UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care, said women who work most weekends tend to be in low-paid service sector jobs, where depression is more prevalent.

"Our findings should encourage employers and policy makers to consider interventions aimed at reducing women's burdens without restricting their full participation in the workforce, and at improving psychosocial work conditions".

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