Today marks the beginning of International Stress Awareness Week 2020. Throughout the week, Careers with Disabilities will reflect on workplace stress and how it impacts wellbeing in the long run.
Stress and anxiety arise when the pressure placed upon an individual exceeds the capacity they have to cope. Experiencing stress can be a huge challenge, both in the workplace and in our personal lives. The pressures that cause stress come from a number of different sources and the effects can be overwhelming and detrimental to productivity. For example, many of us face stress when dealing with the tremendous pressure of our job, when facing struggles in a relationship, or when going through a period of change such as losing a loved one.
International Stress Awareness Week was established by the International Stress Management Association. The aim is to help inform people about the impact of stress and how both companies and individuals can address unhealthy stress levels.
In the UK, over 602,000 workers suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety. This accounts for the loss of 12.8 million working days due to the negative impact of stress on wellbeing. There are a number of factors that cause stress in the workplace, include:
- Workload pressures, such as tight deadlines and too much responsibility
- Lack of support from managerial staff
- Bullying or threats from colleagues including managers
- Changes at work, such as organisational shuffles
Not all working environments cause an equal level of stress among employees. In the UK, workers in public service industries face higher than average rates of stress, depression or anxiety. This includes public administration and defence, healthcare, social work, and education.
Employers have a legal duty to protect their employees against stress at work. As stress is defined as a hazard, all employers with five or more employees are required to carry out an Organisational Risk Assessment for stress. This means that SMEs as well as large enterprises and public sector organisations should be aware of stressors in the workplace and implement strategies to reduce employee stress. If your organisation needs further support, visit our guide on how to become a disability friendly employer.
The Impact of Covid-19
Creating an open dialogue about stress and mental health conditions is more important than ever in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people are facing additional challenges to their mental wellbeing; one in five adults were likely experiencing some form of depression or anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic in June 2020. This is almost double the rate prior to the pandemic.
Actions to Take
The best way to celebrate International Stress Awareness Week is to take this as an opportunity to address the factors that are causing stress in your life. There are several strategies you could trial to help reduce stress or anxiety and improve your mental wellbeing. For more advice, visit our guides on anxiety and depression. For further employment advice specific to your disability of health condition, visit our Disability Advice Hub.