Worried about your colleague's stress levels? Here's how to support them

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Health Assured team

20 September 2017

We all have days at work when we want to scream, but stress and anxiety at work are affecting people in ‘alarming’ numbers, as a new report by the NHS found almost a third of workers being signed off by doctors were suffering from mental health problems.
Of the five million people given sick notes each year, 31% were for mental health and behavioural conditions, with a 14% rise in notes relating to stress and anxiety – from 503,000 to 573,000 – in just a year. Dr Jed Boardman, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, told The Telegraph the statistics were “alarming”, and urged employers to do more to help workers with mental health issues.

What to look out for in colleagues

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at mental health charity Mind, says: “We all experience stress in different ways, but there are signs you can look out for: Feeling irritated, drinking or smoking excessively, finding it hard to sleep or struggling to concentrate. Co-workers struggling with stress might feel really upset and emotional, or feel like crying. “You might also notice some physical signs of stress, like headaches or an upset stomach. Stress can affect your breathing, and make your chest feel really tight. It can even affect your blood pressure. If stress is having a big impact on your life, or you’re finding it hard to get away from overwhelming feelings, it’s worth going to see your GP.” Acas, who offer help and advice for employers and employees, adds: “Changes in the person’s usual behaviour, mood, standard of work or how they interact with colleagues can be signs of stress. Someone experiencing stress can often appear tired, anxious or withdrawn and have a reduced interest in tasks they previously enjoyed. “Their appetite may noticeably change and they may be smoking more than usual. Another sign can be a sudden increase in sickness absence or turning up late to work. “The earlier a manager becomes aware that a team member is stressed at work or experiencing mental ill health, the sooner steps can be taken to prevent it becoming more serious and provide support to help them during this period.” AXA PPP healthcare have divided some of the common symptoms of mental health issues like stress into three core areas, with 19 different possible signs to look out for: Psychological symptoms 1. Confusion 2. Indecision 3. Aggression 4. Low mood/mood swings 5. Being tearful 6. Exhibiting low self-confidence 7. Seeming unmotivated 8. Deterioration in memory Physical symptoms 9. Moving more slowly than usual 10. Change in weight/appetite 11. Unexplained aches and pains Behavioural/social symptoms 12. Appearing nervous 13. Changing their eating habits 14. Change in attendance 15. Neglecting work 16. Withdrawing from social media channels 17. Loss of interest in appearance 18. Deterioration of performance at work 19. Fatigue   Excerpt from Xpose, read the full article here.

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