Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems and can be brought about or made worse by work.
Stress is the harmful reaction people have to excessive pressure and, if intense and prolonged, it can lead to both mental and physical ill health. In some individuals that have an existing mental health problem, it can be more difficult to manage and control work-related stress, leading to the worsening of symptoms. In others, it may cause a mental health problem to arise.
There is often some confusion about the differences between pressure and stress. Pressure can motivate us to perform at our best, but when we experience too much of it we might feel unable to cope and this results in stress, which can then cause ill health.
Employers can help manage and prevent stress at work by improving conditions, making adjustments and helping employees manage a mental health problem at work. In practice, it can be hard to distinguish when stress turns into a mental health problem and when existing mental health problems become aggravated by stress at work.
To control work-related stress, the Management Standards approach developed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) should be implemented. The intention of the Management Standards is to:
- simplify risk assessment for work related stress;
- encourage employers, employees and their representatives to work in partnership to address potential sources of work-related stress throughout the organisation; and
- provide a benchmark for organisations to measure their performance in managing key causes of stress against.