The Scary Link Between Workplace Discrimination and Mental Health

Discrimination can cause mental health problemsWorkplace discrimination can make employees feel isolated, worthless, stressed and defeated. Workers who are being discriminated against might be bullied, demoted, passed up for promotions or excluded from important workplace activities. Many workers affected by workplace discrimination have mental health symptoms such as anxiety attacks, depression and lowered self-esteem.

Let us use a hypothetical example to explore these concepts a bit further. Mary is 24 years old and making a decent living in the Hollywood film industry. However, because Mary is overweight in a town that obsesses over looks, she is often left out of important office activities and regularly passed up for promotions. No matter how hard Mary works, her superficial coworkers and employer refuse to acknowledge her presence. Unfortunately for Mary, there could be significant mental health consequences.

How Ostracism and Workplace Discrimination Cause Suffering

According to research from the University of Ottawa, workplace ostracism is more distressing than harassment. Ostracism is a common action for employers guilty of workplace discrimination. The study found that many workers who were ostracized were more likely to suffer mental health problems and quit their jobs.

Another study from Purdue University came to similar conclusions. Workplace discrimination and ostracism can lead to depression, aggression and lowered self-esteem.

Feelings caused by ostracism and discrimination can also cause physical health problems. For example, depression can lead to a higher risk of suicide, insomnia and heart disease. Is it safe to say that weight discrimination and ostracism will affect Mary? It depends on Mary, but for many workers, the mental health effects of discrimination cannot be ignored.

If you are facing workplace discrimination, take action and hold employers responsible. Your decision to fight back cannot only help you personally, but might prevent others from facing discrimination as well.