Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 27: Stress and mental health

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HealthWiki > Workers' Guide to Health and Safety > Chapter 27: Stress and mental health


a woman worrying about money, family, and health problems while working on an assembly line; another worker and a boss are yelling at her.

When our minds and spirits are healthy, we have the emotional strength to meet our needs and those of our families, to look for ways to solve problems, and to plan for the future. But when we are made unhealthy by too much stress, we are less able to cope with the challenges presented by life.

When work is dangerous, lasts too long, is too intense, and feels out of control, it can damage workers’ mental health. To make factories healthier:

  • Bosses must find respectful ways to involve workers in decision-making instead of imposing their decisions through force or fear.
  • Workers’ pay and benefits must allow for a decent standard of living and stability for workers’ families.
  • Toxic chemicals that affect the way workers think and feel must be banned from the workplace.
  • Workers must have the time and materials to make quality products and take pride in their work.
  • Work rules that prohibit talking and social interaction must be dropped.
  • Health problems, including mental health problems, must not be stigmatized, and access to care for these problems must be encouraged.