Stress is too often ignored

The Mental Health Foundation urges that stress at work should be taken more
seriously

Most companies fail to classify stress as a mental health problem,
dismissing it as something all employees suffer from to a greater or lesser
degree, research has claimed.

A study of senior executives, Burnt Out or Burning Bright?, by the Mental
Health Foundation was unveiled in April to coincide with Mental Health Action
Week.

Mental health problems are generally only recognised when they are
"serious" diagnosable conditions, and stress is not one of these, it
suggests.

The report also finds that junior employees suffer more from workplace
stress than do their more senior colleagues.

The foundation has called on company directors to view their employees’
mental health in the same way they do their physical well-being.

It has urged that stress should not be sidelined as part of human resources
but there should be a national campaign led by a mainstream captain of
industry. All companies employing more than 100 people should offer some kind
of independent employee counselling service, it adds.

Those questioned recognise that employees, particularly junior staff, feel
they have to hide their stress and are perhaps unable to recognise stress that
could become unhealthy.

Senior managers are better able to cope with stress it found, by going to
the gym, for example.

Newer companies are also found generally to be more aware of the need to
manage stress – for instance by offering external counselling, shiatsu, a quiet
room or discounted sporting facilities.

"The business world knows just how crucial this issue is, and the ways
in which it will have a major impact on business. But their key requirement now
is knowing where to start and how to tackle the problem of undue workplace
stress," said Ruth Lesirge, chief executive of the foundation.

In a separate report, the foundation has found that one in four people only
find out a friend is experiencing mental health problems when that person is
admitted to hospital. And 5 per cent only realise following a friend’s suicide,
it added.

The report, Is Anybody There?, found that although nine out of 10 people say
they are able to provide some sort of support to friends experiencing mental
health problems, more than one in three people supporting someone with mental
distress wanted a professional to talk to themselves.

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