New study supports family-friendly policies
A study, published in a professional public health journal, aimed to investigate the impact of ‘precarious’ working conditions, work-life balance issues and psychosocial work stress during pregnancy on symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD) in new mothers. PPD affects about one in five women, especially after a first baby, and is an enormous psychological burden.
‘Precarious’ working conditions include temporary jobs, low wage jobs, when the worker is defenceless against authoritarian treatment, has little scope to negotiate work matters and is powerless in exercising workplace rights. These conditions have been linked to poor mental health – the more precarious the employment, the higher the psychological ill-health.
Work-life balance issues can arise when there’s conflict between the domestic role and workplace responsibilities. Experiences at work can spill over into the private or family domain, and vice versa. Negative consequences of this spill-over include burnout, depression, anxiety, and absenteeism from work as well as lower life satisfaction, lack of energy, sleep disorders, fatigue, and poorer self-reported health.
The study revealed that work-life balance issues, an imbalance between effort and reward at work, and precarious working conditions significantly predicted symptoms of PPD. The study concluded that family-friendly workplace policies can diminish the burden of PPD, with benefits for the business as well as the individual.