One-work day week most suitable for better mental health, suggests study

One-work day week most suitable for better mental health, suggests study

While the concept of four-day work week has already been implement in countries like Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Belgium, a company in New Zealand, which had started this on a trial basis, was so optimistic by its success that it wanted the government to implement it as a norm as soon as possible.

Now the latest suggestion by a recent study is going to put an even bigger smile on the faces of employees – “One-work day per week”. Yes, that’s right. A joint study by the universities of Cambridge and Salford showed that mental health problems in people who move from unemployment to paid work is reduced by 30 percent when the working hours were eight or less.

Study conducted in anticipation of increased automation in future

The researchers of the study stated that they did not find any proof that working more than eight hours a week provided any more benefits for the wellbeing of the employee compared to working for eight hours a week. In fact, they suggested that a one-work day week was the most effective measure to ensure mental health benefits of paid employment.

The study used data collected from a panel survey of 70,000 British residents to observe how changes in working hours was associated with mental and overall satisfaction. The data was collected from 2009 to 2018 and included characteristics such as age, number of children, household income, and history of illness in family.

The main focus of the study was to define the appropriate amount of work for the ideal wellbeing in employees in the event of increased automation in workplace which might require shorter working hours and redistribution of work in the future.

Important to redefine workplace norms

Coauthor Brendan Burchell, sociologist from Cambridge University who led the Employment Dosage research project, said that remedies for general mental wellbeing such as proper sleep, vitamin C, exercise etc. were already known. However, nobody had researched on mental wellbeing in case of paid work.

Dr. Burchell went on to add that unemployment had always negatively affected people be it the case of status, identity, income and overall wellbeing. However, considering the fact that the future may require very less human intervention for particular work to be finished, it would become important to support the unemployed with policy decisions like universal basic income.

The group of researches further stated that though working hours should be reduced for work redistribution, employment should be retained among the working adult population. Lead author Daiga Kamerade, a Ph.D. graduate from Salford University, said that in the coming few decades, manual paid work would be replaced by artificial intelligence and robots, hence it was important to modify the existing working norms in order to ensure continued human employment.


In order to improve the mental wellbeing benefits of paid employment and also ensure employment for all adults, some of the steps suggested were:

  • Redistribution of working hours and workdays
  • Policies such as limited working hours and longer weekends
  • Increasing annual holidays from weeks to months
  • Reduced work hours instead of bonuses

On the issue of mental health wellbeing, Jed Boardman, a psychiatrist practicing in London and the lead for social inclusion at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said that issues such as high demands, job insecurity, and less pay were as bad for an individual’s mental health as unemployment. Since the study suggested that reduction in working hours could be advantageous for an individual’s mental health, such policies could be implemented, however with a proper framework and further research.

Treatment for better mental health

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, around 47.6 million Americans aged 18 and above suffered from a form of mental illness. Such statistics indicate the dire need to take care of one’s mental health.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental illness, it is essential that they receive treatment at the right time. Contact the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline that offers credible information about evidence-based treatments available near you. Call our 24/7 mental health treatment helpline number (855) 653-8178 to know about the finest 24/7 mental health illness services in your vicinity. You can also use our live chat service to get in touch with one of our representatives for more information about 24/7 mental health facilities.