New APA Poll Pinpoints the Extent of Toxicity in the Workplace

New APA Poll Pinpoints the Extent of Toxicity in the Workplace

More than 20 percent of respondents said their mental health has suffered.

Mental health remains a growing concern for the American workforce. And the latest findings by the American Psychological Association (APA) speaks to the role toxic work environments can play in mental health. 

In a press release dated July 13, the APA shared the conclusions of its 2023 Work in America Survey. The organization employed the U.S. Surgeon General’s Framework for Mental Health and Well-Being in the Workplace when assessing different work environments for this report.

The survey—conducted by The Harris Poll between April 17 and April 27, 2023—highlights recommendations for improvement based on the surgeon general’s “Five Essentials” criteria. These include protection from harm, connection and community, work-life harmony, mattering at work and opportunity for growth.

Of the 2,515 employed adults polled in the U.S., 19 percent believe their workplace is very or somewhat toxic. Likewise, an even higher percentage, 22 percent, said they have experienced harm to their mental health at work. The same number claimed they had experienced harassment at work in the past 12 months, up from 14 percent the previous year.

The impact of toxicity in the workplace on mental health is even more evident in the poll results. Those respondents who claimed a toxic work environment were more than three times likely to claim a decline in their overall mental health compared to those who did not experience this work environment, 52 percent to 15 percent, respectively.

The vast majority of respondents to the APA’s survey—92 percent—said it is very or somewhat important their employers value emotional and psychological well-being. Likewise, 92 percent also believe it is very or somewhat important for their employers to support employee mental health. 

The APA’s findings do indicate improvement with mental health support in the workplace. Seventy-seven percent of polled workers said they are very to somewhat satisfied with their employers’ support. Meanwhile, 59 percent of respondents agreed their employers regularly provide mental health resources.

“Our survey data confirm that employees prioritize both physical and psychological support at work, and that the practices employers are putting in place are heading in the right direction,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer in the press release. “However, it is clear there are many areas that require improvement. The number of workers experiencing not only a toxic workplace, but also increasing amounts of stress and a lack of respect concerning their personal time, is disturbing.”

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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