What is workplace stress and how common is it?

Last updated: 05 Mar 2020

Stress is the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other demands that are placed on them. People experience stress when they perceive an imbalance between the demands and their ability to cope with them.

There is a clear distinction between pressure, which can create a ‘buzz’ and motivate you, and stress, which becomes a risk by being protracted. Stress is linked to mental and physical ill-health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and heart disease.

Stress has risen in recent years to become the most common work-related ill health condition. According to the Health and Safety Executive, more than 500,000 people developed a work-related mental health condition in 2016/17. But figures from other organisations suggest that it may be much higher.

With effective management and staff engagement, work stress can be prevented and managed – just like any other health and safety risk. But all too often, stress and mental health problems are overlooked.

Studies suggest that an effective way to improve wellbeing is to connect with people around you. Being a member of Prospect can connect you with fellow colleagues, providing you with a network of support.

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