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14th May 2024

Mental Health Awareness Week: Preventing Work-Related Stress


Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 13-19 May 2024. This is an annual event that aims to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and promote support for those struggling with mental health issues. The week aims to tackle stigma and help people understand and prioritise their and others’ mental health.

The campaign serves as a reminder that mental health is just as important as physical health and that we all have a role to play in creating a supportive and inclusive environment.

In this blog, we will delve into the reasons behind Mental Health Awareness Week, present some alarming statistics, and focus on the need for employers to prevent work-related stress.

Mental Health Awareness Week

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, more than 264 million people suffer from depression, and over 450 million people are affected by mental health disorders.

According to the HSE, stress, depression or anxiety accounted for the majority of working days lost due to work-related ill health last year totalling 17.1 million. Furthermore, the most common cause of stress is work-related stress with 79% saying they frequently felt it (Statistica) One in 14 UK adults (7%) feel stressed every single day (CIPHR).

In response to the above statistics, Mental Health Awareness Week aims to shed light on the various mental health challenges faced by individuals worldwide. It aims to break the stigma associated with mental health issues and encourages open conversations about mental well-being.

Preventing Work-Related Stress

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

Employers have a legal duty to protect workers from stress at work by undertaking a risk assessment and acting on it. This is the same duty that applies to protect people from other health and safety risks.

It’s important to note that stress is not an illness, but it can make people ill. It can cause symptoms that affect how people feel physically and mentally. Recognising the signs of stress will help employers to take steps to stop, lower and manage stress in their workplace.

We have provided below a range of control measures that employers should consider when undertaking their work-related stress risk assessment:-

1. Encouraging Work-Life Balance

Employers should promote work-life balance by fostering a flexible work environment, encouraging employees to take breaks, and promoting a culture that values personal time.

2. Open Communication

Creating a safe and supportive workplace where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns is essential. Encouraging open communication helps identify potential stressors and find solutions collaboratively.

3. Stress Management Programs

Employers can implement stress management programs that provide resources such as counselling, mindfulness training, and stress reduction techniques to employees.

4. Supportive Leadership

Leaders play a vital role in preventing work-related stress. They should lead by example, promote a positive work environment, and ensure that employees have the necessary support and resources.

5. Training and Education

Providing training and education on mental health awareness and, and stress management can equip employees with the tools to recognize signs of stress and seek help when needed. (click here)

6. Plans

You may need to develop individual action plans for workers suffering from stress. HSE’s Management Standards (click here)  may also help you to identify and manage the six causes of stress at work.

7. First Aid

As part of your First Aid at Work needs assessment, you should consider the potential need to support workers who might become ill at work as a result of a mental health issue by training an appropriate number of employees as mental health first aiders.

Mental Health Awareness Week serves as a reminder of the importance of mental well-being and the need to address work-related stress. If you have any queries on this blog then don’t hesitate to call our health and safety advice line on 0300 303 5228.

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