Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 focusing on Stress
Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) runs this year from 14-20 May and puts focus on the subject of stress and how to tackle it to improve our mental health as a whole.
MHAW is supported by the UK every May and is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, a UK charity with the vision of a world with good mental health for all. With research showing that two thirds of the population cite stress as a key factor of mental health problems, raising awareness of the forms stress can take and strategies for both coping with and tackling this worrying trend are key issues right now!
HSE Report Rise in Work-Related Stress and Mental Health Problems
The HSE reported in November 2017 that the prevalence rate of work-related stress and mental health problems rose to the highest rate recorded in 11 years over 2016-17 – an increase of 7% on the previous period. One of the key factors of stress and mental health problems was cited as the workplace; in 2014-15, 440,000 workers reported a mental health problem that had been caused or made worse by employment. With workplace injuries and ill health costing Britain £14.9bn in 2016, this is something that needs to be addressed!
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) used to be the most common work-related illness, but latest reports show stress has overtaken these to be the most commonly reported. Figures show that men are less likely than women to report a mental health problem, however, so the real amount of workers suffering with stress could be a lot higher. Men are more likely to report physical injuries, such as MSDs.
Combatting Stress in the Workplace
It is as important for employers to know and understand the signs of workplace stress as it is for employees to recognise it in themselves and others. Only by openly working to address issues that are reported to cause stress can we as a nation hope to combat this growing issue.
There are a number of online resources being made public by the Mental Health Foundation such as How to Manage and Reduce Stress and practical booklets about looking after your mental health. These can be made available to employees digitally and through print as the first step to encouraging an open forum for stress reduction.
Employers should also make sure that they operate clear policies for reporting issues that may cause stress. Depending on workplace, this could take place in many forms. The key point is to ensure that employees feel comfortable relaying both workplace issues and their own feelings to their management team, safe in the knowledge that the issues will be both listened to and addressed within reasonable timeframes. Obviously, not every issue raised can have a solution that suits all parties, but all employees should be able to still be open about how they feel without fear of ridicule or ignorance.