Lack of Team Spirit in Workplace Increases Depression and Use of Antidepressants

By Susan J. Campbell

The idea that stressful work can be unhealthy is coming into brighter light as new research finds that work environments that lack team spirit can increase depression. A new study by researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Turku, Finland, suggests that such an environment brought on by a lack of team spirit increases worker depression and the odds that employees will turn to antidepressants.

A report in Business Week noted that the workplace has become even more stressful as people worry about losing their jobs and are uncertain about the economic future. One expert from the University of Alabama at Birmingham referred to the U.S. work environment as more tenuous and toxic than in recent history.

Marjo Sinokki, the study’s lead researcher, highlighted that depression is common in working populations and is associated with substantial work disability in terms of sick leave and disability pensions. Sinokki suggests that in order to combat this tendency in the workplace, even in the best of times, companies need to promote well-being and pay attention to team climate.

In completing this study, researchers found that a perception that a workplace was prejudiced or quarrelsome was not associated with alcohol abuse or anxiety, but instead with a lack of team spirit. Those who felt the team spirit was poor were 60 percent more likely to report being depressed and 50 percent more likely to take antidepressants.

Researchers believe that more attention to psychosocial factors at work can result in a healthier workforce. In addition, since people spend the majority of their day at work, the contribution of the work environment to their overall psychological well-being is substantial.