Work environments can impact health

Environments and surroundings often affect how people view their lives and what decisions they make. People may sometimes leave certain environments because they do not like them or do not feel comfortable.

At FAMU, students and professors agree that a healthy or unhealthy working environment can often have a strong affect on a student’s mental health.

According to a link on, workplace and work-related conflict are among the top eight reasons why employees request counseling assistance. The Web site also stated that the number of employees seeking help for work-related conflict has increased from 23 percent in 1999 to 30 percent in 2001.

“If it’s a bad environment, you act bad all day. If it’s a good environment you act happy,” said Michelle Gamble, an 18-year-old freshman criminal justice student from Jacksonville.

Michelle recalled the pros and cons of her working environment in the Registar’s Office.

“The best thing was everyone spoke to each other and everyone was friendly,” Michelle said. “The worst thing was even though they were friendly, they would speak to you one minute and not speak to you the other, and if you had a personal problem (that you should keep between you and them, they would tell everybody.”

Other students said after a couple of bad experiences on the job, going to work became a dreadful experience.

“It was stressful…everything had to be done how the manager wanted it so a lot of pressure made me hate my working environment,” said Jentrite Felix, 19, a freshman business administration student from St. Maarten.

Even though Felix said she hated her work environment, she admitted the pressured environment affected her work ethic.

“It made me want to work hard to impress my boss,” Felix said.

Felix accepted the feeling that the biggest factor that affected everybody in her working environment was people being overworked.

Other students said they have experienced stressful work environment. Deshaun Foster said his work environment was exhausting because his employers were very unflexible and just unfair.

“I felt mentally exhausted because it was too much on me, it was very stressful because I had to work to pay my rent and my bills,” said the 22-year-old senior political science student from Pensacola.

Some may wonder what causes a stressful and unhealthy working environment.

Yvonne R. Bell, associate professor of the psychology department, said an environment where the dominant values are competition, individualism and discrimination among employees contribute to negative working environments.

“In those environments the goal is to dominate and control others and to acquire and occupy the most powerful positions by any means necessary.”

Bell explained what that does to a working environment.

“That corruption negates healthy relationships, which inspires people to be productive and respectful of others you can’t have both,” she said.

Although some students had horror stories about their jobs, there were some students said they experienced positive working environments.

“You never had to stress about work. You enjoyed going to work because you got along with your co-workers,” Tavianna Billingslea said.

The 20-year-old sophomore political science student from Jacksonville revealed the secret to her job bliss.

“I didn’t think about work anymore cause I didn’t mind being at work,” she said.

Billingslea also admitted that she and her co-workers bonded at extra office activities, office parties and Christmas parties.

Bell said many of the students’ experiences are like many working environments in America.

“Most working environments in America are not healthy. You have a lot of undermining people lying and people being deceptive.”

Bell said she believed the healthy working environments are at the lower level positions.

“In a hierarchy it is more of a struggle for power control and prestige.”