In the past few years, businesses attention on mental health has increased significantly.

This has been influenced, in part, by the worrying statistics around mental health in the workplace and the increasing evidence that happy and healthy people are more engaged and productive and therefore improve company performance.

In this blog, we are going to explore what work-related stress is, what causes it, what the impact is and why the work-place is the ideal environment in which to address mental ill health.

What is work related stress?

Stress is defined as: The feeling or state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from perceived adverse or demanding circumstances and the subsequent feeling of not being able to cope. 

Work-related stress is when the perceived adverse or demanding circumstances are related specifically to the work environment.  It occurs when a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them at work.

What’s the impact?

The truth is that when it is well organised and well managed, work is good for our mental health.  However, poorly organised and/or managed work can result in work-related stress and this can cause both physical and mental ill-health.

Work-related stress can affect anyone, in any role, at any level of the organisation and it is not identified and managed, it can also impact on others in the workplace, which further impacts the wider organisation.

What factors cause it?

Work-related stress can be caused by a number of factors.  However, people may experience stress due to different reasons, so it is important to approach every instance of work-related stress as an individual case.

Some reasons for work-related stress include:

  • Work overload or underload
  • Too much or too little responsibility
  • Under-utilisation of knowledge, skills and experience
  • Lack of role clarity
  • Ambiguous expectations
  • Unrealistic deadlines
  • Poor decision-making in the organisation
  • Low autonomy
  • Lack of input in planning or method of activity
  • Inadequate resources
  • Job insecurity
  • Inequitable pay or worries about salary
  • Relationships with colleagues
  • Isolated working conditions
  • Long hours
  • Long commute

What can be done about it?

Because the workplace is where people can be reached en-mass, it is the ideal environment in which to:

  • Raise awareness of mental health issues
  • Promote good mental health practice
  • Provide knowledge to enable early identification
  • Develop skills to deal with and/or prevent issues
  • Establish links with mental health services for help and support.

So, whilst employers may take the view that work and the workplace are not the sole cause of general mental health problems, the prevalence of it in employees and the impact on organisations makes the workplace an obvious environment in which to address the issue of mental health. 

If you’d like to discuss how we can support your organisation and your people,