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Survey asks workers about toxic environments and mental health

Photo: RainStar/iStockphoto

Washington — Nearly 1 in 5 employees describe their workplace as “very” or “somewhat” toxic and, of them, about half say it’s adversely affected their mental health, according to a recent survey

On behalf of the American Psychological Association, researchers at the Harris Poll conducted an online survey of more than 2,500 working U.S. adults in April.

The people who said they work in a toxic environment were more than three times more likely than the other respondents (52% vs. 15%) to have experienced harm to their mental health.

Other key findings:

  • 22% of the workers said they had experienced either on-the-job harassment (up from 14% in 2022) or harm to their mental health within the past 12 months.
  • Another 22% of the workers have witnessed workplace discrimination, while 15% said they’ve personally experienced it.
  • 28% have observed negative slights, insults or jokes that devalued the identity or negated the thoughts and feelings of others based on their identity or background. Meanwhile, 19% said they’d been the target of such behaviors.
  • Customer/client/patient service workers (31%) were the most likely to experience verbal abuse, followed by manual laborers (23%) and office workers (22%).
  • Manual laborers were the most likely to report experiencing physical violence (12%), followed by customer/client/patient services workers (6%) and office workers (5%).

Overall, 59% of respondents agreed that their employer regularly provides information on mental health resources. More than 90% believe it’s important to work for an organization that values emotional and psychological well-being.

“No one should feel fear at work,” APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr. said in a press release. “It is clear there is much work to be done to foster a positive work environment for all workers in the nation. The number of individuals who report experiencing a toxic workplace without protection from harm is troubling.”

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