It seems concerns about stress have been put on the back burner (or is that now “kicked into the long grass”) and I have seen little demand for stress management training in recent years compared to 10 years ago.
That may not be a bad thing if the focus has shifted to developing resilience and stress-proofing, and even better if organisations have improved the well-being of staff and tackled the main causes of work-related stress.
However the mental health charity MIND says that stress and mental health have become taboo subjects in the workplace. For its new initiative “Taking care of business” it polled over 2,000 employees on-line in England and Wales.
- 4 out of 10 said they felt stressed at work and the same proportion said that stress was a taboo subject at work
- 2 out of 3 felt under more pressure because of the recession
- 1 in 5 said they felt they couldn’t talk about it in case they lost their jobs
MIND estimates that with greater awareness and better support businesses could save a third of the £26 billion lost each year to sickness absence and lost productivity.
They suggest this could be done by treating mental ill-health in the same way as physical ill-health by encouraging more openness and being more supportive and less discriminatory. They also want businesses to treat staff well-being as a priority.
Professor Cary Cooper, well-known for his work on stress in the UK, said that stress at work had always had a stigma attached to it and now it’s worse; ” Because of the downturn people are feeling job insecure and more than ever they’re frightened of admitting they’re not coping …… (and) the more we can convey it’s not uncommon the better. 20% of people will have or are suffering from depression”
He also makes the point that even if people are mildly depressed or have bipolar disorder they can still function effectively and given appropriate treatment recover.
Scientists have unzipped clues as to why effects of stress can be passed on from generation to generation