work related stress My Occ Health

Work-related stress – the great unknown

January 12 2021

Stress! It’s an increasing problem in the workplace (and now at home) – difficult to recognise but can lead to deeper seated mental health issues if left untreated.

Work is a major part of our lives. It occupies most of our waking day and we can become mentally consumed with it long after the end of a shift – especially in this time of home-working. This can often lead to disrupted sleep patterns, fatigue, and even greater levels of stress, so the cycle continues and worsens!

Unlike a physical injury, stress can’t be seen and while recovery from a broken arm, dislocated shoulder or muscle strain will pass with time and care, stress can go unrecognised by the person suffering with it and those around them.

This is why it’s important for employers and their workforce to be aware of the warning signs and take action to address the problem.

A hidden danger

More than half of working days in the UK are lost each year due to mental health and work-related stress is one of the most common causes of work-related illness – it resulted in nearly 13 million working days lost in 2018-2019!

Stress can be brought on by:

  • Excessive workload demands
  • Unrealistic timescale deadlines
  • Excessive responsibility
  • Lack of support within the workplace

All of which leads to general poor health, increased risk of accidents, reduced productivity and absence from work through sickness. Work-related stress can also easily evolve into anxiety, depression and cause high blood pressure.

Recognising the signs

It can be very difficult to spot another person suffering from stress – they may not even be aware of the problem themselves, but there are subtle changes to character and demeanour which may help you identify the problem.

Memory, concentration and motivation are likely to be affected which will have a knock-on effect of reduced workplace performance and output. You may also become aware of unusual mood swings, possible relationship problems and an uncharacteristic tendency towards personal neglect.

The feelings of excessive pressure or demands are unique to the individual concerned and the longer the problems go unnoticed and untreated, the more damaging the effects become. We are all different and have varying stress-related tolerances.

What can be done?

It is important for employers to be able to identify the risks of stress-related ill health in the workplace and have a plan in place to address that risk. Measures to consider include:

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • Open communication between employee, line manager and employer – encouraging discussion about any potential problems before they escalate
  • Comprehensive screening for work-related stress issues through post incident reviews and return to work meetings
  • An implementation of the Health and Safety Executive’s standards questionnaire – specifically devised to help with the early identification of the condition and what is causing the problem 

My Occ Health is providing expert occupational health services for employers and HR through an experienced team of GPs specialising in occupational health assessments. We can help you know what to look for in identifying work-related stress in employees and guide you on the best course of action to treat it.

Our online consultations are easy to arrange, can be made swiftly, avoiding any unnecessary delays, and the results are communicated quickly.

For more about our online consultations, visit


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