Researchers at the Australian National University, led by Dr Liana Leach, have found that people in poor quality jobs that are insecure or have high levels of strain share the same level of mental health with the unemployed.
According to the study, employment isn't always linked to better mental health -- in fact people who move from unemployment into poor quality jobs are much more likely to be depressed than those who were still unemployed.
"Our work found that people in poor quality jobs -- jobs which were insecure, did not provide future job prospects or had high levels of strain -- had no better mental health than people who were unemployed.
"In fact, the research showed that people who moved from being unemployed into poor quality jobs were significantly more likely to be depressed at follow-up than those people who remained unemployed," Dr Leach said.
Research generally shows that people who are employed have better mental health than those who are unemployed. The findings from this research indicate that things may not be that simple and that employers may need to be more aware of the roles they ask staff to perform.
"As a result of previous research there has been a focus on workforce participation as a means of improving people's wellbeing -- the idea being that if people get a job, their socio-economic, health and personal circumstances will improve," said Dr Leach.
She added: "This research suggests getting people into any job may not necessarily lead to mental health improvements. Instead, people need good quality work to gain and maintain better wellbeing.
"It highlights the importance of employers striving to provide good quality work environments, which are associated with good workplace support, job security and realistic work demands."