Middle managers at higher anxiety, depression risk

New York, Aug 19 (IANS) If you have been recently promoted to a middle-management position in office, researchers have some bad news. Mid-level managers suffer higher rates of depression and anxiety than those at the top or bottom, says a new study.

“We explored how social class might influence depression and anxiety in ways that may be masked or incompletely explained by standard socio-economic status measures,” said first author Seth Prins from Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York, US.

This study used data on 21,859 full time workers.

Class designations were made by sorting respondents into three categories: Owners, who identified as self-employed and earned more than $71,500; managers and supervisors, who occupied executive, administrative or managerial positions; and workers, who were defined by various occupation categories including farmers and labourers.

Nearly twice the number of supervisors and managers reported they suffered from anxiety compared to workers.

Symptoms of depression were reported by 18 percent of supervisors and managers compared to 12 percent for workers.

While social disadvantage related to income and educational attainment is associated with a higher risk of most adverse mental health outcomes, these latest findings show that people towards the middle of social hierarchies suffered higher rates of depression and anxiety based on their social class and position of power in the labour market.

“Our findings highlight the need for population health research to both conceptualise and measure social class in ways that go beyond the standard measures of socio-economic status,” Lisa Bates, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, noted.

“Standard measures are most readily available, but can mask important complexity in the relationship between social class and population health,” Bates noted.

The findings appeared online in the journal Sociology of Health & Illness.

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