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Social resilience

Work addiction: A global risk for mental health


Experts from 60 countries are addressing the issue of the mental health of employees. Work addiction, commonly referred to as workaholism, is a global risk. This addiction is characterised by a strong urge to devote the maximum possible time to work, a limited ability to manage one’s preoccupation with work, neglect of the family and free-time activities, and withdrawal symptoms when unable to work.

Workaholism is a huge problem since in many western and European countries there is an increasing emphasis on excessive workload, performance and efficiency, excellence, productivity, and competitiveness. Further, excessive work is recognised as socially valuable, both for the work itself and the prestige connected with it. All this compounds the problem of how to identify work addiction.

“It is estimated that between 6% and 20% of the population is addicted to work, although accurate data are almost non-existent,” says Kateřina Zábrodská of the Institute of Psychology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, who coordinates the Czech part of the international project and specialises in occupational health at the SYRI National Institute. “The negative impact on society is enormous. Work addiction can lead to depression and burnout. It can also endanger one’s family life and social life, and lead to divorce, neglect of one’s health and its decline.”

“The most developed countries are tending to report increases in the number of people displaying workaholism. The social climate places a higher expectation on perfection, so promoting the idea that everyone must be better and more successful than others,” says Zábrodská. The expert also points out that work addiction can be a form of escape from unpleasant emotion. It is expected that incidence of this addiction will continue to rise owing to increased stress levels connected with the current geopolitical situation.

“The main goal of the research is to obtain data to identify risk factors that lead to work addiction and work-induced depression and burnout. And we would also like to raise public awareness of mental health issues connected with work and their prevention,” Zábrodská says. The experts are collecting data through an anonymous online questionnaire applied in 60 countries until the end of May. 

Photo: Pixabay


Doc. Kateřina Zábrodská Ph.D.

Position: Senior researcher
+420 221 403 909