Stop stressing about work related stress

Emily Pearson, director of Our Minds Work on the cost of work related stress.

Next month is Stress Awareness Month; however, I feel that if there is anything that humans are acutely aware of it is stress. Paradoxically the more aware we have become, the higher the numbers climb for stress related sickness absence in the workplace.

In October last year the HSE released their report: Work related stress depression or anxiety statistics in Great Britain. The data showed that 2019 saw the highest rates of self-reported work-related stress, anxiety and depression since data began in 2003/04. The rates were quite stable until around 2015 when we started to see them steadily increase.

In my opinion, this increase, in part, correlates with the explosion of “mental health in the workplace” where the more awareness we have raised and the stigma reduced, also impacted the confidence to self-report. Add this factor to an increase in the workplace demands and pressures and we are seeing a definite upward trend which in 2018/19 accounted for 602,000 Workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or longstanding) and 12.8 million Working days lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

The biggest causes of this problem? Too much to do with not enough support to manage it with 58% reporting workload and lack of support as the reasons.

Morally, preventing a psychological injury caused by the workplace is the right thing to do, but the legal responsibility is there too. HSE shouldn’t have to enforce this to keep people mentally well, however it looks like this is the route that they will have go down and have now released criteria to which they will follow up with an inspection to protect the mental health of employees where work related stress isn’t being tackled.

At People Power Emma Carhart from Our Mind’s Work will be talking about what workplaces can do to prevent and better manage work related stress to create a mentally healthy workplace.

Emily Pearson

Managing Director, Our Mind’s Work

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