April is stress awareness month
April is stress awareness month – what should we be aware of?
Not all stress is bad stress – that extra bit of adrenalin to help you cross the finish line in a race or when you must deliver a key presentation can be very welcome.
But according to HSE figures in 2017/18 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases and 57% of all working days lost due to ill health.
When stress becomes negative it can have some very serious consequences on your health including - problems sleeping; anxiety; depression; nausea; lack of appetite; fatigue; heartburn; gastrointestinal issues; heart damage; strokes; changes in behaviour, unusual tearfulness, irritability or aggression; indecisiveness; increased sickness absence; poor timekeeping; reduced performance e.g. inability to concentrate, overworking or failure to delegate; erosion of self-confidence; relationship problems e.g. becoming withdrawn or argumentative; increased unwillingness to cooperate or accept advice; excessive smoking or drinking; drug abuse.
If poor employment practices have caused the stress then
The case of Walker v. Northumberland C.C.  established that the duty of care oy employers to employees also extends to psychiatric injury and that work-related stress can result from either the character of the work carried out or the volume of work.
In Young v Post Office  the Court of Appeal held that where an employee has already suffered from psychiatric illness it is reasonably foreseeable that there might be a recurrence if appropriate steps are not taken when the employee returns back to work. The court stated that the employer owes the employee
Protection of Harassment Act 1997 (PHA 1997) and breach of statutory duty an employee does not have
Employers can be vicariously liable for breaches of the PHA 1997 by their employees. The test is that a harasser must have knowingly caused serious distress or alarm on at least two occasions.
In Green v DB Group Services (UK) Ltd, Ms Green successfully used this law to claim damages exceeding £1.5 million.How can Mental Health First Aid help?
The H&S Executive have stated that first aid training courses covering mental health, teach delegates how to recognise warning signs of mental ill health and help them to develop the skills and confidence to approach and support someone, while keeping themselves safe and is one of the ways that employers can ensure that they meet their legal obligations.As work-related stress costs employers between £30 - £40 billion a year can you afford not to be more stress aware?