Work-related stress FAQs

What is a mental illness?

Mental illnesses or mental health disorders are characterised by the effects they have on someone’s mood, thinking and behaviour. Some examples include depression, anxiety disorders, eating problems and personality disorders.

How many people experience mental health problems each year?

1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem in the UK each year.

What can cause mental illness?

There are many things that can cause a mental illness; more often than not it will be more than one cause.

Examples of the following could result in poor mental health:

  • Abuse during childhood or adulthood.
  • Poor relationships socially and at work.
  • Violence or bullying.
  • Abuse from drugs or alcohol.
  • Bereavement.
  • Long-term stress.
  • A traumatic event.
  • Social disadvantage such as poverty or debt.

What is work-related stress?

The HSE defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’.

Work-related stress refers to excess of demands in the workplace that exceed your ability to cope. The HSE has produced stress management standards which are helpful for managers and employees and are used in stress risk assessments.

What are the symptoms of stress?

Common symptoms of stress include:

  • Feeling upset, angry or impatient.
  • Being anxious or nervous.
  • Inability to enjoy things you normally would.
  • Lack of attention.
  • Consumed with thoughts.

Stress can also affect your behaviour by:

  • Making you constantly on edge.
  • Avoiding people or situations.
  • Getting frustrated at people.
  • Increasing smoking or drinking.

How can you prevent stress?

Changes you can make to combat or prevent getting stressed include:

  • Undertaking regular exercise.
  • Access training and awareness.
  • Focusing on positive things, and accept things that are not in your control.
  • Having a good support network.
  • Setting goals and objectives to build up your confidence.
  • Avoiding unhealthy habits such as overeating, smoking and drinking.
  • Setting time to yourself to relax and do things you enjoy.
  • Getting enough sleep.

How can I relieve stress?

Everyone will prefer different methods to relieve stress. Common examples include:

  • Breathing exercises.
  • Meditation.
  • Talking to trusted support such as friends or family.
  • Having some time to focus on yourself and what you enjoy.
  • Listening to music.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation.

What treatment is available for mental health?

  • Access training and awareness programmes.
  • Discuss the options with your GP or Healthcare provider.
  • Talk to your family, friends or employer.

Who can I talk to about mental health?

There are a variety of options of who you could talk to about mental health concerns, including:

  • Your GP.
  • The Samaritans.
  • Someone you trust such as a friend or family member.

You may also have a Mental Health First Aider at your workplace.

How can I make my staff feel more comfortable talking about mental health?

Ways to improve mental health and wellbeing in your workplace include:

  • Encourage conversations on mental health within your organisation.
  • Access training and awareness programmes at work.
  • Implement a Mental Health at Work Plan to highlight the available support.
  • Ensuring managers and supervisors lead by example and openly talk about mental health to all employees including managers.
  • Making reasonable adjustments to prevent mental ill-health occurring.

As an employer, do I need to do anything about stress in the workplace?

Yes it is part of part of health, safety and welfare at work.

Things you can do include:

  • Provide access to training and awareness programmes.
  • Undertake stress risk assessments.
  • Make reasonable adjustments and monitor stress in the workplace Based on the findings of risk assessment.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. It is an expected natural response to every day life but if it become prolonged then you should seek help.

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help someone manage their problems by changing the way they think and behave. It teaches the individual coping skills for dealing with difficult problems, focusing on thoughts, beliefs and attitudes.