Working At Amazon Takes Mental Health Toll On Some Employees

By Kelly Burch 03/14/19

The Daily Beast investigated mental health emergency calls made from Amazon warehouses over a five-year span.

Amazon warehouse workers

Working conditions at Amazon warehouses may be so poor that they are negatively impacting the mental health of employees—evidenced by 189 emergency calls logged from Amazon warehouses over five years to report suicidal employees and other mental health emergencies. 

The calls were made from 46 warehouses—about a quarter of the warehouses run in the United States by Amazon, according to reporting by The Daily Beast. Information from the other warehouses was not available, but the pattern at the 46 warehouses suggests that many other emergencies likely took place at Amazon facilities. 

One call in July 2018 from a man in Ohio highlight the issues at hand. A sheriff’s report about the incident reads:

“With all the demands his employer has placed on him and things he's dealing with in life [sic] is becoming too much and considering hurting himself.” He has been “with Amazon for over a year and is frustrated with his employment because he felt he was lied to by Amazon at his orientation. He keeps saying the company told him they valued his employment and would be treated as if he mattered and not just a number.”

However, that promise is at odds with reports that have emerged from Amazon warehouses, where employees are reportedly carefully monitored right down to their timed bathroom breaks. 

Jace Crouch, a former employee in Florida, said that the environment in the warehouses can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions. 

“It’s this isolating colony of hell where people having breakdowns is a regular occurrence,” Crouch said. He added that it was “mentally taxing to do the same task super fast for 10-hour shifts, four or five days a week.”

Amazon responded in a statement that the Daily Beast report was a generalization, and didn’t “take into account the total of our associate population, hours worked, or our growing network."

“The physical and mental well-being of our associates is our top priority, and we are proud of both our efforts and overall success in this area,” the company said in a statement. “We provide comprehensive medical care starting on day one so employees have access to the care when they need it most, 24-hour a day free and confidential counseling services, and various leave and medical accommodation options covering both mental and physical health concerns.”

However, Nick Veasley, 41, who became suicidal while working at Amazon, said that those benefits do little to offset the work environment. Although he was initially excited about the pay and benefits provided by Amazon, he often felt his thoughts spiral at work. 

“I had so much on my mind that the quietness of standing in one spot and doing my job, would just let my mind run,” he said. “Usually I can get myself out of a problem but I couldn’t do it working at Amazon. I felt like I had a thousand pounds wrapped around my ankle and it kept dragging me down and down and down, and there was no way out.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.