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Not just Blue Monday - workplace stress is felt all year

On a day the media tells us is the most depressing of the year, recent ICM research has highlighted the extent of year-round workplace stress affecting the UK’s working population. The research highlights that stressful times aren’t limited to the arrival of post-Christmas credit card bills, with 55% of interviewees saying stress caused by their employment has an adverse effect on their mental health and day-to-day life throughout the year.

This figure potentially equates to more than 13 million employees across the UK. More than half of those interviewed admitted that they found it hard to switch off after a day’s work, with 34% of respondents reporting a lack of control over, or an inability to cope with the stress caused by their working life. 23% claimed to use alcohol as a crutch to forget about problems at work – which can further exacerbate any mental health problems an individual may be facing.

The ever-present threat of redundancies and the need to ‘do more with less’ makes many workers push themselves too hard – at a cost to themselves and their employer. More than 10 million working days are lost to stress each year with an associated cost estimated at £3.7 billion. However, the bill doesn’t end there.

At a time when many businesses are scrutinising their workforce more closely, many employees are reluctant to take time off sick, leading to a rise in presenteeism – continuing to work when they should be resting or seeking treatment. It is estimated that this presenteeism, with its associated reduction in effective decision making, costs UK businesses £15.1 billion per year in reduced productivity.

Obtaining timely and effective treatment for stress is essential, according to Dr Jeremy Broadhead, Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Group:

“Psychological stress is too often ignored. As well as being destructive to an individual’s life it can damage the brain too. More often than not, 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. Letting these problems persist makes individuals vulnerable to developing a psychiatric illness, most likely a mood or anxiety disorder.

“If the symptoms of stress are recognised, I would advise anyone to seek help before a more serious condition is provoked. If a more serious condition is already developing, then good treatment is vital.”

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