These 4 jobs are the worst for your mental health. Here's why.

Content warning: This story includes mentions of suicide that may be distressing to some readers.

Workplace stress is, to some extent, inevitable. There's deadlines, the juggling of multiple priorities, and dealing with the occasional dose of office politics.

But in some instances, our work environments can lead to more than just a frustration or two.

Right now, Australia is dealing with a mental health epidemic. And sadly, suicide is the leading cause of death among Aussies aged 15 to 49 years old.

What the research tells us is there are certain industries that see higher rates of suicide among their employees compared to others. 

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These jobs are the worst for your mental health.

Generally speaking, high-risk occupations have the highest rates of poor mental health and/or suicide or suicidal ideation recorded among employees.

Examples of high-risk occupations include emergency service workers, and healthcare professionals and providers.

The irony is that in each of these jobs, the individual is striving towards keeping people safe and looking after the community. Yet in the process, it can impact their own mental health based on the confronting scenes they're witnessing firsthand.



Katherine Petrie is a PhD candidate at the UNSW School of Psychiatry, and a research assistant with the Workplace Mental Health Team at The Black Dog Institute.

Speaking on Mamamia's The Quicky, Katherine noted there are certain contributing factors within the medicine profession that can lead to poor mental health outcomes.

"Doctors suffer from a number of professional and workplace-related stresses that can increase their risk of mental ill health and suicidality. There's long hours, work-life imbalance, high rates of stigma and low rates of seeking help," she explained.

"Doctors also have a high understanding and easy access to means of suicide. That's a key risk factor we need to be aware of more."


The healthcare system in general is over-worked and under-staffed, as well as seriously underpaid. But any of us who have had to go to hospital or call an ambulance know firsthand what a selfless role it is to be a healthcare worker.

Paramedics in particular are one such example that are susceptible to experiencing poor mental health.

There's a bunch of reasons for this – number one, a lack of sleep, and number two, the confronting (and sometimes traumatising) scenes they witness.

Interestingly, new research tells us that insomnia and depression symptoms increase in paramedic recruits, given the amount of shift work they do whilst simultaneously learning on the job. It's a lot on one's mind and cognitive capacity. 

Police and firefighters.

These two occupations often work to keep our communities safe from danger and crime. Sadly though, police officers and firefighters tend to have the highest rates of developing PTSD compared with other professions.


Former investigator Deb Swain previously spoke to Mamamia about what it was like trying to help her husband, who was diagnosed with PTSD following his time in the police force.

"They feel like they're never going to get well, and their life is never going to be as good. They struggle with hope," she explained. "For family members, I would urge them to hang in there and stick with them – because the reality is they can get through this with your support."

Ultimately, it's reaching out for help and support from loved ones that can make the biggest difference, Katherine notes.

"Family and friends can provide a really important listening ear, and a watchful eye. It's watching out for those signs such as disconnection, problems with sleep, or if they've become a bit aggressive," she shared on The Quicky, suggesting that "just offering a simple 'how are you doing? I've noticed you've seemed a bit more troubled recently'" can make a world of difference.

"It's reminding them to take care of themselves, not just of their patients or the people they help."

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature Image: AAP.

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