[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 21 April, 2003, 22:58 GMT 23:58 UK
'I felt chained to my computer'
By Jane Elliott
BBC News Online health staff

Graphic
Valerie's work depressed her
More than a third of people are unhappy with their job.

Many feel their hours are too long and that work is leaving them feeling irritable, anxious or depressed.

A recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation, 'Whose life is it anyway?', suggests some people are so tortured by their working day they have attempted suicide.

Three years after the government launched its Work-Life Balance Campaign one in six people are still working more than 60 hours a week.

Stress

Nearly three in every 10 employees will experience a mental health problem each year, and half of all lost days are due to work-related stress.

Valerie Smith was so depressed by her change of job she re-thought her whole working pattern.

It is wrong that people should be chained to their computer for an eight hour day
Valerie Smith

A secretary for a large company Valerie, 55, from Derbyshire, had never had any problems at work until she was transferred to another department.

She found herself tied to her computer for her whole eight hour shift.

A job that had previously seen her interacting with colleagues daily became a very lonely post, with all communications carried out by computer.

Even telephone calls were kept to a minimum and Valerie began to feel very isolated.

She said: "I had enjoyed my job, but when I transferred to the other department I was expected to do all of my work on the computer.

"Even when I was putting in dates into other people's diaries, I never needed to speak to them.

"It was very difficult. I just found it a very pressured situation, although I was not working long hours.

"Everything was geared up to speed of communication and I think it was probably time for me and them to part company.

"It is wrong that people should be chained to their computer for an eight hour day."

Depression

Valerie became depressed and her doctor prescribed anti-depressants, but the situation did not improve and she decided to leave.

Valerie said: "It made me depressed. I did not know what to do. I just found that the change in the work pattern was not right for me."

She took a part-time job in a residential care home for the elderly and now loves her working day.

"I enjoy going to work now. I can't explain the difference, but I love my job. It is right for me and the other one was not," said Valerie.

Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said the daily grind of work could become too much for many people like Valerie.

He said people were not only damaging their health, but also friendships and relationships by their work stress.

Mr McCulloch said: "Much of the research into work-life balance to date has looked at the costs to industry of stressed employees, through lower productivity and working days lost.

We know that many people neglect their relationships, social networks, their children and their hobbies and interests when they work long hours
Andrew McCulloch
Mental Health Foundation
"We believe there will be serious long-term costs to individuals, and that's why we've carried out this study.

"We know that many people neglect their relationships, social networks, their children and their hobbies and interests when they work long hours.

"These are all vital factors in mental wellbeing, and neglecting them can put people at serious risk of developing mental health problems.

"'Whose life is it anyway?' is designed to address the real issues people face in trying to protect their mental health day-to-day."


SEE ALSO:
Capital's workers 'at risk'
07 Jan 03  |  Business
Stress link to fatal strokes
23 Mar 03  |  Health
South West is major stress zone
07 Jan 03  |  England
Prison conditions criticised
24 Mar 03  |  England


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific