Stress Awareness Month 2019 - Stress at Work

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Stress awareness month began in April 1992 and has occurred every April since then. It aims to bring public awareness to stress including highlighting the causes and effects of stress and techniques to relieve stress.

Stress is an ever growing problem. A recent UK survey found that almost three quarters of adults (74%) have at some point over the past year felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. In particular, around half a million people in the UK are currently suffering from work related stress.

Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances” or “the adverse reaction that people have to excessive pressure or other types of demands placed on them”. It can be caused by a sudden traumatic event or just the expectations of daily life. Most people will experience stress during their life, and often it can be seen as a safety mechanism and the body’s way of ensuring an individual is alerted to possible threats and can take evasive action, but constant and extreme stress can be bad for both physical and mental wellbeing.

The Mental Health Foundation released a report during stress awareness week last year highlighting the importance of promoting good mental health in the work place and urging employers to treat physical and mental health with equal importance.

The report sets out ten key actions to manage and reduce stress including identifying the cause of the problem, and when it is causing you a problem, reviewing your lifestyle and carrying out more exercise, along with building supportive relationships.

As well as the impact on mental health, stress can affect physical health and cause problems with immune systems, heart disease, and digestive problems. On average, an individual suffering from work related stress lost an average of 23.9 working days. It is therefore within an individual’s interest to manage their stress, but also within an employer’s interest to consider the physical and mental well-being of their staff.

It is worth considering what causes you stress, how you can manage and cope with stressful times at work and at home, and also considering how you can help to relieve the stress of those around you.

As an employer you should treat stress at work seriously, it can affect your business as well as your staff/colleagues. At the worst, work related stress, if not handled appropriately by the employer could result in compensation claims, and/or long term sickness absence.

If you need any further advice with employment/employee rights, contact us for assistance.