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Stress: the precursor to mental health problems 

Work-related stress has been on an upward trend since 2014 and is currently at its highest levels since the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) started to collect data in 2001.

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"Long-term chronic stress can be a killer"
"Long-term chronic stress can be a killer"

According to HSE research, stress is the second most commonly reported cause of occupational ill health in the UK, accounting for 44 percent of all work-related cases and 57 percent of all working days lost due to ill health.

 

Long-term chronic stress can be a killer, it’s the precursor to mental health problems like anxiety and depression and the root cause of physical ill health, like heart disease and even temporary infertility in women.

 

The shocking impact to employee health should be a big red flag to responsible organisations, prompting them to take action to prevent such a serious health hazard; you would think.

 

Yet in 2019, 10 years after the HSE made work-related stress a health priority, there has been minimal effort to tackle the problem, leaving hundreds of thousands of employees unwell because of work-related poor mental health.

 

Maybe the tide is finally turning. It has been an employers legal duty to prevent work-related stress by carrying out a stress risk assessment and taking action on it since 1999 so the legislation is far from new, however the HSE now seems to be taking a stronger stance toward employers who are not complying with legislation.

 

This year HSE have launched a “Go Home Healthy Campaign” where health focused inspectors will be visiting organisations with a focus on work-related stress.

 

If your company received a visit tomorrow, how would you fair? What are you doing to prevent work-related stress and the ill health of your employees? If this question has left you wanting, here are three questions to help you on your journey towards not only being legally compliant, but a responsible employer willing to tackle work-related stress head on, and create a mentally and physically healthier workplace.

  1. Do you know where the pain points are, what are the work-related stressors?
  2. Do you know what teams or departments are at highest risk of being subject to work-related stress?
  3. Do you know how to effectively find and implement solutions at all levels of the organisation?
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