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How is the mental health of employees affected by a toxic work environment? Psychologists share 4 traits health news


The detrimental impact of a toxic work environment on employees’ mental health cannot be overstated. From constant stress to rampant negativity, such settings create a breeding ground for anxiety, depression and lethargy among employees. As a seasoned psychologist, I have witnessed firsthand the impact toxic workplaces have on an individual’s psychological well-being. The prevalence of phrases such as “employee burnout” and “mental health awareness” in contemporary discourse emphasizes the urgency of addressing these issues. Prioritizing a supportive, inclusive culture isn’t just a matter of corporate responsibility—it’s essential to protecting workers’ mental health in an increasingly demanding professional field.

4 Ways to Recognize a Toxic Work Environment

Ms Piali Maiti, Counseling Psychologist, Clinical Director – Counseling Operations, 1to1help identifies and recognizes toxic workplaces:

1. High levels of stress affect physical health and mental health: Toxic workplaces may promote a culture of long work hours and expect to be available on weekends and holidays. This imbalance between personal and professional life can lead to exhaustion and boredom. Chronic stress can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, muscle tension and digestive problems.

Over time, these health problems can worsen and lead to chronic conditions. Prolonged exposure to a toxic work environment can also increase the risk of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions that may require professional intervention and treatment.

2. Employee’s self doubt or inferiority complex: A culture of abuse, public berating, belittling, criticism, micromanagement and blame can erode employee trust. This feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt further affects their personal and social life.

3. Decreased productivity and increased attrition: Employees may feel frustrated and gradually withdraw themselves from work. This often creates a vicious cycle where performance declines leading to more criticism and stress, further alienating the employee. Employees may take more sick days or eventually leave the organization altogether to escape the toxic environment.

4. Workplace Relations: Toxic work environments often create an atmosphere of distrust that leads to gossip and office politics. Over time, employees feel disconnected and overwhelmed by constant antagonism at work and with colleagues, which can contribute to feelings of isolation and distrust, and even unethical behavior.

Ms. Piali concludes, “A psychologically safe (as opposed to a toxic) workplace helps boost self-esteem, boosts morale, puts team spirit on steroids, ensures positivity, discipline, enhanced motivation and more. So it’s important for organizations to understand.”