harsh work, Black Americans, study, mental health workplace, stress, racism, mental health awareness month

Study Reveals Impact Of Harsh Work Schedules On Health, Especially Among Black Americans

The study examined various negative health outcomes in tangent with socioeconomic factors.

A new study has shown that overwhelming and packed work schedules can be harmful to people’s long-term physical and mental health, and this negative effect disproportionately harms the Black community. 

The study conducted by NYU Silver School of Social Work professor Wen-Jui Han, published in the scientific journal PLOS One, delves into the vital impact of employment on health. The study examines how work schedules throughout our careers may influence health outcomes by the age of 50. Han emphasizes that regularly working late nights can have detrimental effects on health.

According to Han, “the critical role employment plays in our health by examining how employment patterns throughout our working lives, based on work schedules, may shape our health at age 50.” 

The study analyzed data gathered from Americans ages 22 to 49. It listed data about their sleeping habits, working schedules, and general health. The findings concluded that those with “stable” employment patterns tend to have better health and sleep schedules.

Han expressed, “Our work now is making us sick and poor. Work is supposed to allow us to accumulate resources. But, for a lot of people, their work doesn’t allow them to do so. They become more and more miserable over time.”

The study cited the impacts of challenging work conditions on the health of people of different socioeconomic statuses. It balanced the data against personal factors like race, ethnicity, gender, education, immigration status, and geographic location.

The impact of the stress shows that the harsh work schedule can accumulate over time on a person’s body. Those who work regular and consistent day shifts before transitioning into more “volatile” schedules later in life tend to have poor health outcomes.

The professor continued to list outcomes like “depression, anxiety, obesity, and a higher risk of having a stroke.”

This effect is seen more commonly in Black Americans, as they more commonly have to “work night shifts, have irregular schedules, and get less sleep than other groups…”

Han continued to tell the Daily Science that it was unfortunate that such a widespread negative effect resulted from something people had to do nearly every day to support themselves. 

He said, “Work that is supposed to bring resources to help us sustain a decent life has now become a vulnerability to a healthy life due to the increasing precarity in our work arrangements in this increasingly unequal society. People with vulnerable social positions (e.g., females, Blacks, low-education) disproportionately shoulder these health consequences.”

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