Stress is often associated with a myriad of health problems and a new study conducted by experts from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, reveals that a highly demanding work environment is linked to increased sick leaves and risks to mental health.

The researchers reviewed data from 12,000 Swedish workers to verify their hypothesis and found out that at least eight percent of these workers have taken sick days because of mental health. About a third of these workers were women.

The findings also revealed that multiple workers who exhibited unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and drinking, were also likely to take mental health sick leaves, but high physical activity was touted as a "protective factor" from the risks, according to Science Daily.

Taking a sick day due to mental health disorders is apparently common among Swedish workers, suggesting the crucial need for reducing the risks in the workplace.

"Interventions to reduce sick leave due to mental disorders that focus on improving the psychosocial work environment, especially reducing high psychosocial job demands, may prove effective," said Lisa Mater in the report.

However, to address the behaviors only, without taking action of the work environment, may not be successful in reducing mental health sick leave, the study authors further wrote in their research. On top of lifestyle changes, the work experience itself must also be modified. 

Mental strain has proven to make workers perform poorly at their jobs, according to a study from 2013, as this can make employees emotionally and cognitively inept. It supports the latest findings of the Swedish researchers.

The new study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.