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National Stress Awareness Day

04 Nov 2015

The World Health Organisation (WHO) (1948) defines health as ‘......a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.........’

In the past, back pain was cited as the number one cause of absenteeism, now it is Stress.  There are two specific definitions of stress that are adhered to: ‘The adverse reaction a person has to excessive pressure or other types of demands placed upon them’ – The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and ‘That which arises when the pressure placed upon an individual exceeds the capacity of that individual to cope’The Confederation of British Industry (CBI). 

The whole stigma around mental ill health – stress is recognised as such, has individuals very loathe to raise their hand and ask for help.  Much more empathy and understanding is required both in and out of the workplace to grasp the fact that what may trigger one person’s perception of a threat is not necessarily the same for all.  Action Mental Health provide excellent awareness sessions for both young people and adults to highlight this issue.

From a legal perspective, employers have a ‘duty of care’ cited in The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (NI Order 1978) ‘...duty of every employer to ensure as far as reasonably practicable (and foreseeable), the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees, including mental health’

Providing a counselling service does not now totally cover an Employer’s ‘duty of care’ – education and awareness of stress and other mental ill health issues should be part of health and safety within the workplace (Intel v Daw, 2007 and O2 v Dickins, 2008) – proactive, rather than reactive.

From an employees’ perspective, litigation can be taken against an employer under the Disability Discrimination Act (1995 & 2005) as stress is now included in the later version as a ‘mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’.

WHAT’S THE INCENTIVE FOR EMPLOYERS TO RECOGNISE HEALTH AND WELLBEING IN THE WORKPLACE?

Stress has forced one in five workers (19%) to call in sick, yet the vast majority of these (93%) say they have lied to their boss about the real reason for not turning up. (Office of National Statistics  2012:)

ORGANISATIONS THAT PROMOTE AND PROTECT WORKERS’ HEALTH ARE AMONG THE MOST SUCCESSFUL AND COMPETITIVE COMPANIES IN THE LONG TERM.

Action Mental Health (AMH) provide a plethora of services for individuals living with mental ill health as well as expert-led awareness sessions for Schools, Communities and the Business sector.

For further information: see AMH MensSana Services

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