Stress and mental health in the workplace

By foxrobins

November 11, 2016

With 1 in 6 people dealing with mental health problems in the work place right now [1] this is a large issue that can pose significant risk within any organisation or business. Work stress and mental health issues often go together, with one regularly triggering or worsening the other.

According to HSE, common mental health problems and work related stress can be differentiated by a number of things. Mental health is described as how we think, feel and behave, whereas work related stress involves a negative reaction to demands and pressures in the workplace. Such reactions can include loss of appetite, whilst fatigue and tearfulness can be symptoms of both, however they can exist independently. HSE say that work related stress can be improved by changes to working conditions, however common mental health problems can be caused by outside events or have no obvious cause at all.

Stress

Stress is a phrase we often use when we are feeling that things are getting on top of us, whether work, issues on your mind, or any situation we do not have control over.

According to the charity Mind, you can start to reduce the effects of stress by discovering the root cause, being aware of this in your day-to-day life and actively finding solutions to help you handle it better. This may be through relaxation techniques or potentially making lifestyle changes [2].

Anxiety

Anxiety can affect anyone at any point in their lives and affects different people in different ways.  Whereas with stress there is often a clear cause, anxiety can cause suffering whether a reason is clear or not. A person experiencing anxiety can often exaggerate problems in their heads, preventing them from finding a solution and often avoiding what causes their fear, rather than facing it [3].

Anxiety is a normal reaction within the body designed to protect us from danger or physical harm. It acts like an internal alarm, alerting us of the danger and producing a surge of adrenaline to help us fight or run away by increasing the heart rate and the amount of oxygen reaching our body parts.

Mental health problems

Within HSE they use the term CMHP, common mental health problems [4], this describes issues that are more frequent and are commonly treated by GPs rather than specialists. Anxiety and depression fall under this category as the most common mental health issues reported.

It is usual for these CMHPs to be short-term problems and are often treated with medication issued by local GPs. However, if no improvement is seen then a referral a specialist such as a Psychiatrist may be necessary.

Within the workplace stress and mental health issues can affect the work production as well as signalling potential issues within the working environment. Organisations can work towards improving conditions within the workplace to help prevent stress and aid individuals in managing the causes of their stress. Download our eBook to discover a guide for managers and organisations for how they can improve conditions within the workplace and help prevent stress.

At Airsweb we provide software solutions that can form an integral part of your quality, environmental, health and safety programme. Our accident and incident software solution not only allows the user to report physical events but also the cause, which may include stress related incidents. Through the shared learning notice board, safety and health and wellbeing messages can be displayed to improve awareness to workers. For more information on any of our services call us on 0151 289 6811 or email any queries to info@airsweb.com.

Lee Davies

Glenn Hardy

Sources:

[1] http://www.mind.org.uk/for-business/mental-health-at-work/taking-care-of-yourself/

[2] http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/stress-guide/about/?o=6278#.VH2VtWSsXog

[3] http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/furtheradvice/stressandmentalhealth.html

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