Long working hours cause depression, survey confirms

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 December, 2012, 2:12pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 December, 2012, 5:41pm

It’s no surprise that working long, inflexible hours can trigger mental distress, but now a Hong Kong survey has put a statistical face on the situation.

Among people who work more than 50 hours a week, 35 per cent show symptoms of depression, according to a survey commissioned by the Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service and released on Thursday.

But when the working week drops below 50 hours, the incidence of mental distress declines to 27 per cent, it found.

Similarly, inflexible work arrangements – such as having no choice about when and where to work – were linked to depression symptoms, anxiety and stress.

At inflexible workplaces 33 per cent of workers suffer mental distress, versus 25 per cent in more flexible environments, the survey found.

The service centre’s clinical psychologist, Joanna Poon Wai-fong, said the findings should be of high concern to the community.

The survey of about 1,000 people, aged 18-60, was carried out in September and October by the University of Hong Kong.