Being out of work is bad for both mind and body – progressively damaging health and decreasing life expectancy, an independent report reveals.
Is Work Good for your Health and Wellbeing? – a comprehensive review of more than 400 pieces of scientific evidence – concludes that employment is good for your physical and mental health, boosting self-esteem and quality of life.
The adverse health effects of being out of work include higher rates of mental health problems than the general population, as well as an increased likelihood of suicide, disability and obesity.
However, the evidence reveals that this can be reversed – when people return to work, their health improves by as much as unemployment damages it.
The review highlights a lack of understanding among healthcare professionals of the benefits of work. A series of initiatives are under way to help them understand the links between work and health, the long-term consequences of signing patients off sick, and the role they can play in helping their patients remain in or return to work.
National director for health and work Dame Carol Black, who is leading the government’s Health Work and Wellbeing strategy, said: “I am determined to raise awareness among healthcare professionals that being out of work has a real and negative impact on people’s mental and physical health.
“Very few doctors and nurses understand that work is health giving. Work is an intrinsic part of improving and maintaining health. It is crucial that GPs bear this in mind when offering advice and support to people with all types of health condition.”