WORKAHOLISM: THE ADDICTION OF THIS CENTURY
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Posted on August 14, 2014 by Stone Hearth News Eureka Alert – University of Bergen Norway
In spite of the many positive aspects of work, some people are unable to detach from it – working excessively and compulsively. These are called workaholics.
Postdoctoral Fellow Cecilie Schou Andreassen and colleagues from the Department of Psychosocial Science at the University of Bergen (UiB) in Norway has been the first to assess workaholism in a nationally representative sample.
According to Schou Andreassen, the “workaholism” concept has been studied by scholars for nearly 45 years. Still, reliable statistics on the prevalence of workaholism is hard to find. The research field primarily relies upon poor measures used in small non-representative samples from the United States.
Measuring work addiction
Schou Andreassen is no stranger to this type of research, having previously developed an instrument to measure work addiction called the Bergen Work Addiction Scale (BWAS). The BWAS is the first workaholism instrument that is based on core symptoms found in more traditional drug addictions; i.e., salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, conflict, relapse, problems.
Schou Andreassen and her research team have developed seven criteria to measure work addiction:
- You think of how you can free up more time to work.
- You spend much more time working than initially intended.
- You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and/or depression.
- You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
- You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
- You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and/or exercise because of your work.
- You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
“If you reply ‘often’ or ‘always’ to at least four of these seven criteria, there is some indication that you may be a workaholic,” says Schou Andreassen. “This is the first scale to use core symptoms of addiction found in other more traditional addictions.”
Young adults most affected
The study found that 8.3 per cent of all Norwegians are addicted to work. There are, however, no differences between the genders. Both men and women tend to compulsively overwork.
“We did find that younger adults were affected to a greater extent than older workers,” says Schou Andreassen. “However, workaholism seems unrelated to gender, education level, marital status or part-time versus full-time employment.”
Those with caretaker responsibility for children living at home were more likely to be affected than those without children.
Workaholics scored higher on three personality traits:
- Agreeableness (“Mother Teresa” – typically altruistic, compliant, modest)
- Neuroticism (“Woody Allen” – typically nervous, hostile, impulsive)
- Intellect/imagination (“Columbus” – typically open for new impulses, inventive, action oriented)
Huge practical implications
Schou Andreassen points out that workaholism may have contradictory psychological, physiological, and social outcomes. As a significant group seemingly is affected, focus on this phenomenon is timely, especially among health professionals and researchers. But employers, politicians, legislators/lawyers, and journalists should also acknowledge the topic as well.
“As workaholism is not a formal diagnosis the development of treatment models and real treatment offers has been lacking. The fact that more than eight per cent of the general work population seems to suffer from workaholism underlines the need for proper treatment and other relevant interventions,” says Cecilie Schou Andreassen.
About the study:
Examines the prevalence of workaholism in Norway, as well as associations between workaholism, socio-demographics and personality. A sample of 2,160 participants, aged 18-70 years old, was randomly drawn from the AA-registry of Norway (i.e., a central registry of all employers and employees in Norway) during 2012. According to Norwegian legislation, the National Insurance Act (§-25-1), it is mandatory for all employers to register workers being hired in the AA-registry when the employment lasts for more than seven days and comprise four hours or more of work per week. A total of 1,124 responded to the survey, yielding a response rate of 54.0%. Due to the way the sample was drawn, and the measures used, it is arguably a nationally representative sample of employees in Norway (the whole country), and first of its kind in workaholism research overall.
The project was conducted at the Department of Psychosocial Science at the University of Bergen, in collaboration with the Bergen Clinics Foundation, Norway; Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom; and Padova University, Italy.
About Dr Cecilie Schou Andreassen:
Cecilie Schou Andreassen, PhD, currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen, Norway. She also has an affiliation with the Bergen Clinics Foundation, Norway. Her main research interest concerns work and organizational psychology, but also chemical and non chemical addictions. Her research has been published in journals such as Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, Current Pharmaceutical Design, Stress & Health, European Journal of Personality, Psychology and Health, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, Psychological Reports, Journal of Behavioral Addictions, etc. Besides her academic interest, Andreassen is a licensed Clinical Psychologist Specialist with special training in psychological work with drug abuse and addictive behaviours, and a member of Motivational Interviewing Network for Trainers. In addition, she has practiced as an organizational consultant for a decade providing her with a broad scientific, clinical as well as organizational experience.
The Article: Andreassen, C. S., Griffiths, M. D., Hetland, J., Kravina, L., Jensen, F., & Pallesen, S. The prevalence of workaholism: A survey study in a nationally representative sample of Norwegian employees. PLOS ONE.
DIGITAL DANGERS LURK AS SCHOOL BEGINS AGAIN
From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton 11-Aug-2014 Newsroom: Mississippi State University, Office of Agricultural Communications
Newswise — MISSISSIPPI STATE — As students head back to the classroom, parents should remain aware of their children’s online behavior — whether for school assignments or socializing.
Jamie Varner, an instructor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service Center for Technology Outreach, said parents should warn their children about digital dangers and take practical steps to help keep them safe.
“The No. 1 thing parents can do is communicate with their children about what they should and should not do when they are online,” Varner said.
“The Internet can be a good source of information, but it poses some risks. Innocent searches can bring up websites with harmful malware, software, viruses or inappropriate content.”
Varner recommends setting up the computer in a central area of the home, such as the family room, where the monitor is visible to others.
“Think about when your children will be using the computer,” she said.
“If the computer is a desktop and homework gets done while the adults are preparing dinner, maybe the computer should be near the kitchen.”
Other options to help control content when children are unsupervised are Internet filters and passwords.
Internet filters reduce the possibility children can access inappropriate material. Filters can be customized to meet individual needs. Some filters can also manage instant messaging software and social media sites and provide a detailed activity log. Internet filters can be purchased or downloaded for free from the Internet, Varner said.
Mariah Morgan, an assistant Extension professor with the Center for Technology Outreach, said passwords can be set up through a computer’s internal settings to control what content children can access. No special software is needed.
To password-protect sites in Internet Explorer, use the Tools tab to access Internet Options and then select the Security tab. Highlight Restricted Sites, and left-click on Sites. Then, in the available field, type the restricted website. Press the Add button. Repeat these steps for each website that should not be accessed.
Child-friendly search engines, such as Google’s Safe Search and KidZui, can limit children’s ability to stumble across explicit material, Morgan said.
The same safety features can be implemented on mobile devices.
“Keeping kids safe on Smartphones and tablets can be a bit more difficult, but it is not impossible,” Morgan said.
Both Apple and Android operating systems allow parents to limit online activity and app purchases on phones and tablets. Parents can set content filters in both the Google Play and iTunes stores to prevent the download of apps that cost money. To stop the download of free apps, parents can block access to both stores entirely by installing a password or personal identification number. App downloads from websites can be disabled in the settings menu. Most devices with newer operating systems allow different profiles for different users.
Apps also can help parents enforce limits. Kid Mode keeps child-friendly apps in a locked area on the device. Net Nanny and Funamo apps filter content and provide email reports on the child’s activity, Morgan said.
Many children interact with friends routinely on social media. Ellen Graves, Extension social media strategist, suggests parents set limits and discuss ground rules before allowing a child to join a social media network.
“Children should be mature enough to make sound decisions about what they post and who they communicate with via social media before they join any network,” Graves said.
“Make sure they understand they should never post personal information, such as a phone number or an address, that could put them, their families or friends in danger.”
Encourage children to create a private profile, which allows only approved individuals to interact with the child. Parents should know the usernames and passwords of each social media account their child has, Graves said.
“Be open with your children and make sure they know you will be monitoring their social media activity for their safety,” she said.
“It is also a good idea to define the amount of time they can spend on the Internet. Of course, these rules can change as the child becomes more mature and demonstrates good judgment.”
Software, such as Net Nanny and My Mobile Watchdog, can help parents keep track of a child’s social media activity, but these and some other programs charge fees. Apps, such as Screen Time, help restrict the time spent on iPhones and iPads. Parents can also follow or friend children as an additional way to monitor their behavior, Graves said.
HEAD OF US GOVERNMENT MENTAL HEALTH COMMENTS ON DEATH OF ROBIN WILLIAMS
Director’s Blog by Thomas Insel NIMH
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton National Institute of Mental Health August 13 2014
Once again a tragedy has mental illness in the news. Much has been written about the suicide of Robin Williams this week; print stories, television news, and social media have all covered the loss of an extraordinarily talented man.
They have also talked about the facts about mental illness: the toxic mix of addiction and depression, the high rates of suicide among middle- and older-aged men, and managing mental illness as a long-term challenge.
In view of the challenges of managing multiple disorders—in this case addiction and depression—what makes the story of Robin Williams so remarkable is his many years of success as a comedic genius.
This is like finding out that a world-class marathoner was battling congestive heart failure—an achievement that seems almost too much to believe.
The character Williams played in Good Will Hunting, the therapist Sean, has a wonderful line when he talks about people’s imperfections: “That is the good stuff,” he says.
Surely, the “good stuff” in this story with such a tragic ending is the long history of successful struggle to be productive, generous, and authentic in spite of an illness that ultimately prevailed.
Despite the energy and focus it often takes to cope with and manage mental illness, Robin Williams was able to bring joy and laughter to millions of people around the world.
We in the mental health community speak a lot about recovery, but the inconvenient truth is that for too many people, mental illness can be fatal.
While shame or prejudice, lack of access, or poor quality of care can all contribute to fatal outcomes, even those who have been very public about their struggle and have had access to the best available care still, too often, die from depression.
Of course, this is true of many forms of cancer and end stage heart disease as well. But our discussions of mental illness rarely focus on this inconvenient truth: these illnesses are currently just as fatal as the “big killers.”
We must continue to invest in research to develop new and more effective treatments for people with depression and other mental illnesses. The goal must be a future in which no lives are lost as a result of suicide.