A new study has found that just one day of employment per week is the most “effective dose” for getting the maximum mental health benefits of paid work.
The risk of mental health problems reduced by 30 per cent after people moved from unemployment or stay-at-home parenting into eight hours or less of work per week.
Results found no evidence that working more than eight hours provided further boosts to mental health, reports the Independent.
Researchers at the universities of Cambridge and Salford investigated the relationship between working hours and mental health, after concerns over automation technology reducing working hours in the future.
Data from a 70,000-person survey between 2009 and 2018 was examined to explore the link between changes in working hours and mental health.
Dr Brendan Burchell, sociologist from the University of Cambridge, said: “We have effective dosage guides for everything from vitamin C to hours of sleep in order to help us feel better, but this is the first time the question has been asked of paid work.”
“We now have some idea of just how much paid work is needed to get the psychosocial benefits of employment – and it’s not that much at all.”
There are fears that technology advancements and automation could lead to many redundancies in the future, and therefore damage our mental health.
Dr Daiga Kamerade explained how the future of working could look: “In the next few decades we could see artificial intelligence, big data and robotics replace much of the paid work currently done by humans.”
Research also suggested that limited work could be a possibility, such as five-day weekends, working just two hours a day or increasing annual holiday from weeks to months.
As well as technology automation, reducing our working hours could also help to tackle climate change. Think tank Autonomy suggested a major reduction in working hours to nine hours a week to cut carbon emissions.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s Bazaar UK.