How Employees Mental Health Is Affected By A Toxic Work Environment? Psychologist Shares 4 Characteristics


The detrimental impact of a toxic work environment on employees’ mental health cannot be overstated. From incessant stressors to pervasive negativity, such settings breed a breeding ground for anxiety, depression, and burnout among workers. As a seasoned psychologist, I’ve witnessed firsthand the toll that toxic workplaces take on individuals’ psychological well-being. The prevalence of phrases like “employee burnout” and “mental health awareness” in contemporary discourse underscores the urgency of addressing these issues. Prioritizing a supportive, inclusive culture isn’t just a matter of corporate responsibility—it’s imperative for safeguarding employees’ mental health in an increasingly demanding professional sphere.

4 Ways To Recognize a Toxic Work Enviroment

Ms Piyali Maity, Counselling Psychologist, Clinical Director – Counselling Operations, 1to1help points out toxic workplace is characterized and recognized by:

1. High levels of Stress Impacting Physical health and emotional health: Toxic workplaces may promote a culture of long working hours, and expectations to be available on weekends and holidays. This imbalance between personal and professional life can lead to exhaustion and resentment. The chronic stress can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, and digestive issues.

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 which may require professional intervention and treatment.

2. Employee’s Self Doubt or Inferiority complex: Abusive language, public reprimand, Belittling, criticism, micromanagement, and a culture of blame can destroy employees’ confidence. These feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt further impacts their personal and social lives.

3. Reduced Productivity and increased attrition: Employees may feel demotivated and distance themselves from work gradually. This often created a vicious cycle where performance drops which leads to more criticism and stress, making the employee further disengaged. Employees may resort to taking more sick days or eventually leave the organization altogether to escape the toxic environment.

4. Workplace Relationships: Toxic work environments often foster an environment of mistrust leading to gossip and office politics. Over a period of time, employees feel disconnected and overwhelmed by the constant hostility in the workplace and with coworkers which can contribute to feelings of isolation and mistrust and even contribute to unethical behaviour.

Ms Piyali concludes, “A psychologically safe (the opposite of a toxic) workplace helps in raising self-esteem, augments morale, puts team spirit on steroids, ensures positivity, discipline, enhanced motivation and more. It is therefore important for organizations to understand the signs of toxic work environment and take active steps to promote a more healthy and inclusive environment.”



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