Understanding the concept of mental load
Nowadays, there is a lot of discussion regarding increasing mental load in the working environment. However, mental load is not automatically harmful, nor should it be equated with mental illness.
Firstly, mental load refers in very general terms to the totality of external factors that affect our mental state. Unlike in its everyday meaning and somewhat counter-intuitively, mental load should be understood as a neutral term.
In terms of work, therefore, mental load is the combination of requirements arising from the activity and, as such, occurs in every activity and affects every individual. With that in mind, the aim is not to get rid of or eliminate mental load but rather to design it to correspond with the needs of humans.
The effects of mental load on individual workers are referred to as stress and can affect people in different ways. How well or badly a person copes with mental load depends on a number of factors. In addition to the type, length, timing and intensity of mental load, an individual's circumstances and coping strategies also influence whether the effects are positive or negative. These effects can be either positive or negative. In the best case scenario, mental load leads to positive impacts of stress and contributes to the individual's health, well-being and professional development. In the worst case scenario, mental load results in adverse impacts of stress and can, for example, jeopardise well-being and health if it persists for a long time.