Priory Group tackles work-related stress

The Priory Group, the UK's leading provider of mental health services, has piloted an innovative service aimed at tackling the huge problem of work-related stress, and the associated costs to both business and the individual.

Stress is among the biggest problems in British workplaces, with the cost to the British economy being estimated at £3.7 billion* per year. In partnership with a FTSE 100 employer, Priory Group has delivered rapid and cost-effective prevention and treatment services that resulted in hundreds of absent days avoided. The costs saved through a reduction in absence were equal to the costs of the services, and the employer was able to visibly demonstrate investment in the well being of its staff.

According to recent ICM research, carried out on behalf of the Priory Group, more than 13 million employees** are at risk of mental health problems caused by the stress of their jobs,.

The figures highlight that 55% of respondents felt that their employment had an adverse affect on their mental well-being and day to day life. More than half admitted that they found it hard to 'switch off' after a day's work, and 34% of those questioned suffered feelings of lack of control over, or an inability to cope with, the stress caused by their working life.

Dr Jeremy Broadhead, consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Group, said: "Stress, whether physical or mental must be taken seriously. We all recognise physical strains on our body and the damage that may be caused. For example, if we injure our knee we don't keeping running on it because it would cause further damage. We take care of it. Psychological stress, as well as being hard to bear and destructive for our lives, can damage the brain. It is too often ignored."

"Too much pressure and uncertainty at work, and difficult relationships there and at home, can cause psychological stress. As the figures show, the result can be psychiatric illness, misuse of alcohol and a change in demeanour."

The HSE Labour Force Survey 2010/11 found that 10.8 million working days were lost due to stress, anxiety or depression, and the average number of days lost during each absence was 27.

It is not just absence which hits business. Figures from the Centre for Mental Health show that most people suffering with stress continue to work, but may struggle with concentration and effective decision making. It is estimated that this 'presenteeism' costs UK businesses £15.1 billion per year in reduced productivity.

Dr Broadhead continued:  "When a person is 'stressed' their thought processes speed up, they find it difficult to switch off at the end of the day and often cannot sleep. They can become irritable and preoccupied, and become poor company at home. Alcohol is often used as self medication, with this research highlighting that 23% use alcohol as a crutch to forget about problems and stresses at work. Letting these problems persist makes individuals vulnerable to developing a psychiatric illness - most likely a mood or anxiety disorder."

Peter Smith, Service Line Director at the Priory Group said:  "The Priory Group is expert in helping individuals manage these situations. If the symptoms of stress are recognised it is advisable to seek help before a more serious condition is provoked. If a more serious condition is already developing then good treatment is vital."

"By engaging bespoke mental health services companies, private medical insurers, group income protection providers, health management organisations and employee assistance programme providers, can achieve tangible and sustainable benefits."

"Priory engages every day with individuals running the risk of a decline in work performance which if left unchecked, might result in absence. By matching the issues with the most appropriate and evidence based therapies, we bring new ways of thinking and feeling that bring recognition, realisation, coping skills and ultimately builds resilience."

"Services are delivered at locations that provide rapid and local access, be it discreetly at the place of work, a local Priory therapy centre or at one of our hospitals nationwide."

"This research and the related costs to the economy highlight the magnitude of the problem of work-related stress and the detrimental effects on both the individual and the business. Addressing this in a structured and professional way is beneficial to both employees and businesses."