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'Big Brother' employers damaging mental health of workers

Image of group of CCTV surveillance cameras
Lianhao Qu / Unsplash

News round-up / by Conor D'Andrade

In a survey of 1600 people, just over a third agreed that over-vigilant employers have a negative effect on their "mental health or sense of wellbeing at work".

The survey also revealed emerging worries around how the rise in technology in the workplace will affect their future employment, with almost 1 in 5 reporting fears that their job would be obsolete in five years' time.

Effectiveness of technology in the workplace was another concern expressed by many, with almost 1 in 4 reporting that automated processes have made errors with performance, pay and shift.

A further 3 in 4 say they don’t know how their bosses use the data collected about them.

In contrast, some respondents did acknowledge the benefits of technology in the work environment, with 1 in 5 saying it has improved their job over the last 5 years .

"Bosses are trying to play big brother to workers and it’s got to stop," said GMB General Secretary, Gary Smith. "In a relentless drive to push workers harder, they are affecting their mental health.

"Technology should be used to ease workers’ burden - not trap them in an Orwellian nightmare.”

Colours and greenery could boost the mood of citizens

Researchers from France have concluded that bright colours and greenery in urban cities can boost people's mood.

The team from the University of Lille used virtual reality to measure the differences in mood caused by changes in minimalist urban glass, metal and concrete landscapes.

The 36 participants navigated a virtual space while their eyes were tracked and their surroundings were changed by adding vegetation, bright pinks and yellows and angular patterns.

The researchers measured participants' blink rates to determine what they found visually stimulating and interesting, after which participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their experience.

Results showed that participants' heart rate and walking pace were slower when navigating spaces with vegetation, alongside paying more attention to their environment.

These findings suggest that changes to cities – such as introducing more trees and vegetation – could lead to some slight psychological benefits for the people that live and work in them.

Smacking associated with higher risk of mental health issues in children

A study of 8500 16-to-24-year-olds from Australia has found that children smacked by their parents are significantly more likely to develop mental health issues than those who are not.

Both girls and boys who were smacked were twice as likely to develop depression or anxiety.

The study also revealed just how common it is for parents to smack their children in Australia, with 6 in 10 reporting that they were smacked at least 4 times in a year as a child.

Similar to the UK, there is a grey area around the legality of smacking children in Australia, with UK law saying it is fine when used for “reasonable punishment”.

The findings have sparked renewed calls in Australia for clear and strict rules to be introduced.

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