This year’s Mental Health Awareness week* has been highlighting the consequences of stress. Whilst not identified as a mental health problem by itself, stress has been shown to contribute to a range of mental and physical conditions including depression, anxiety and cardiovascular disease. As a result, anything we can do to help people to manage their stress levels both at work and in the home will help to contribute to overall wellbeing.
Apart from looking at the direct cause of stress at work such as work demands, inflexible working patterns and poor leadership; there are a number of areas in which businesses can directly help their people who may be suffering from stress. The first is to open up the debate about stress and mental health. This can still seem to be a taboo area but studies have shown that the more open the discussion, the more people feel able to access help. Not only that, when the discussion is open, people are more likely to be honest about how they are feeling. After all, if it acceptable to take a day off because a heavy cold has made you feel rotten, why shouldn’t the same criteria apply to feeling overwhelmed.
Stress management is every much a part of leadership responsibilities as health & safety, an ethical culture or employee engagement. It’s time to bring stress into the open.