Could Work Relationships Impact a Student’s Mental Health?
College is an extremely stressful period of time for many, especially those working to pay their way through college. The luckiest working students receive health insurance from their place of employment, but even with that added peace of mind, college is a time of adjustment, discovery, and risk as students fight for better grades while trying to stay afloat financially. College is also a time of mental development, and for many students, it’s the most likely time for serious mental disorders to manifest themselves.
What percentage of college students would you think are working? How many of them work full-time? The answers are surprising. Loans are more easily available than ever, and college is more expensive, so as many as 47% of students are working 20 hours a week or more. As many as 72% of undergraduates are employed, and work isn’t the only responsibility college students have.
A recent study has raised some interesting questions about how work relationships, both with fellow employees and supervisors, can impact a student’s mental health. In a study led by psychology researcher Allison Vaughn, 170 working students were asked to fill out questionnaires with questions that pertained to work relationships and the dynamics between students and their supervisors.
“If you think about a typical 24-hour day for a college student, aside from sleeping, students are going to school and studying and also working part-time, four hours a day on average,” said Vaughn, continuing, “It makes sense that the people a college student works with would also have the potential to be health-relevant. Students who need to work their way through school should try to make the most of these workplace relationships, just as you would with any friendship or romantic relationship.”
The results of the questionnaire revealed that most students found their supervisors to be moderately or very helpful overall, and found the majority of work relationships to be supportive or ambivalent despite typically feeling some level of upset at their co-workers from time to time.
Less pleasant relationships did seem to correlate with less favorable mental health conditions across the board, with ambivalent employee-supervisor relationships and ambivalent employee-employee relationships typically coinciding with greater mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and stress. Conversely, students with positive relationships had better mental health in the areas mentioned above.
There are certainly factors that could’ve polluted the results of this test. The questionnaire itself relied heavily on honesty, and it’s possible that positive mental health was creating better relationships – not the other way around, as this study suggests. While inconclusive, these finding do contribute to a growing body of evidence that shows that a negative work environment has effects that reach far beyond the workplace.
How do you relieve stress at your workplace? Have any tips for fostering positive co-worker relationships? Let us know in the comments section below to join the discussion, and don’t forget to call or click Cost U Less today for California health insurance made to fit any budget and any lifestyle. Call or click today!