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Mental Health and Cognitive Capacity

Gaining a better understanding of the influence of work

Mental health and cognitive performance are central to modern occupational safety and health. Until recently, little has been known about how mental disorders can be prevented and how mental health can be promoted. You can find out more about this here.

Briefing © iStock/Rawpixel

Our world of work is changing all the time. These changes are being accompanied by considerable psychosocial and cognitive demands. This can be seen to cause mental strain among employees, and affects their mental health. In our research, we focus not only on the negative indicators of mental health, such as burnout and depressive symptoms, but also on positive indicators, such as well-being.

Negative indicators of mental health

Burnout, depressive symptoms and impairments to cognitive performance in employees are often the cause of high sickness levels and a premature departure from working life. The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) is conducting research on the influence that work has on negative indicators of mental health in various projects.

Positive indicators of mental health

If work is to be designed to be conducive to health, this presupposes knowledge of the ways with which health can be maintained. Through our research, we want to acquire more knowledge about the resources at work that can maintain and promote well-being and engagement at work, as well as workability and employability.

Cognitive capacity and work

An increasing trend towards information-intensive activities can be observed in the current world of work. This is being accompanied by increasing demands on the cognitive performance of employees. In this respect, BAuA is researching, for example, whether multitasking exceeds the capacity of the brain, how the "physiological costs" of information-intensive work can best be assessed, and which protective factors have a positive effect on cognitive skills.

Mental workload

In the work process, employees' cognitive performances do not provide any information on the degree of mental work load that they are faced with. BAuA records mental workload continuously in its research. This procedure also allows for the identification of the detrimental consequences of the mental workload. We apply innovative developments from the world of medical engineering and complex signal analysis to our research in this field.

Research focuses

The following subjects form the focus of BAuA's researchBAuA:

  • cause-effect relationships between work and burnout, depressive symptoms and impairments to cognitive performance,
  • associations between mental health, workability and functional capacity and labour participation,
  • associations between work and the positive characteristics of mental health,
  • research into cognitive performance and cognitive reserves on the basis of psychophysiological methods,
  • the development and application of methods for measuring the mental workload continuously in the working environment.

Publications

To the topic

Understanding Mental Health

From the absence of psychological problems through to well-being

Find out more : Understanding Mental Health …

Negative Indicators of Mental Health

Burnout and depressive symptoms are in the focus of research here.

Find out more : Negative Indicators of Mental Health …

Mental Workload

Information-intensive work and its effect on people

Find out more : Mental Workload …

Work and cognitive performance

What facilitates cognitive performance and what inhibits it

Find out more : Work and Cognitive Performance …

Research Projects

Project numberF 2250 StatusCompleted Project Development of an empirical basis for work and functional health - sample survey among employees

Find out more : Development of an empirical basis for work and functional health - sample survey among employees …

Project numberF 2384 StatusOngoing Project Longitudinal study of mental health at work (S-MGA II): A Study on etiological associations between working conditions, mental health and work ability - Project component 1: Preparation of questionnaire and conduction of the second wave of S-MGA II

Find out more : Longitudinal study of mental health at work (S-MGA II): A Study on etiological associations between working conditions, mental health and work ability - Project component 1: Preparation of questionnaire and conduction of the second wave of S-MGA II …

Project numberF 2312 StatusCompleted Project Psychophysiological investigations on changes of cognitive capacities during working life under consideration of individual cognitive reserves

Find out more : Psychophysiological investigations on changes of cognitive capacities during working life under consideration of individual cognitive reserves …

Project numberF 2318 StatusOngoing Project Depression, burnout and cognitive deficits - studies on the influence of work- related and individual determinants

Find out more : Depression, burnout and cognitive deficits - studies on the influence of work- related and individual determinants …

Project numberF 2402 StatusOngoing Project Experimental studies on the development of continuous neuronal mental workload registration for field use

Find out more : Experimental studies on the development of continuous neuronal mental workload registration for field use …

Project numberF 2407 StatusCompleted Project Interaction effects of psychosocial occupational factors on mental health: cross sectional analyses of S-MGA-data and longitudinal analyses of lidA-data

Find out more : Interaction effects of psychosocial occupational factors on mental health: cross sectional analyses of S-MGA-data and longitudinal analyses of lidA-data …

Project numberF 2408 StatusCompleted Project Work and employment conditions as determinants of work engagement and its association with mental health and work ability

Find out more : Work and employment conditions as determinants of work engagement and its association with mental health and work ability …

Project numberF 2283 StatusCompleted Project Effect of psychological stress at the workplace on "Neuroenhancement" - empirical studies on employees

Find out more : Effect of psychological stress at the workplace on "Neuroenhancement" - empirical studies on employees …

Project numberF 2276 StatusCompleted Project Improving cognitive capacity by a workplace health promotion program - Investigation of access and compliance

Find out more : Improving cognitive capacity by a workplace health promotion program - Investigation of access and compliance …

Publications

baua: Report

baua: Guidance