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Hospital admissions for stress are up since economic downturn began

There has been a dramatic rise in hospital admissions for stress since the economic downturn began, according to figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Some 6,366 people were admitted to hospital for stress in the year to May 2012, with people of working age worst affected. The number is a 7 per cent increase on the previous year and a 47 per cent rise from four years ago.

Experts have linked the rise to the current economic climate, citing job insecurity, frozen pay packets and increasing workloads as main contributors to the problem.

A recent study from Lane4 and OnePoll found that middle management is shouldering the greatest burden, with two in five claiming to be under 'severe stress'. Almost half of private sector workers interviewed had had their workloads increased following redundancies and more than a third were concerned about the security of their jobs.

Stress is not normally considered an illness in itself, but a trigger for a wide range of conditions and illnesses, including heart attacks, low immunity, back pain, mental ill-health, anxiety and depression. Analysts reckon that the true number of admissions due to stress to be much higher when these other related conditions are taken into account. Stress is the biggest single cause of sickness in the UK, accounting for 105 million lost days last year.

Some causes of stress can be alleviated or prevented by good management, support and understanding. Simple measures such as effective job design, training and flexible working can help employees cope with the demands of their work. Allowing employees to have their say and take part in decision making as well as making space to talk about any issues arising will help maintain healthy working relationships and reduce stress.

Acas offers advice on wellbeing at work and can help organisations create procedures to minimise Stress in the workplace. Acas advisers can visit organisations, identify critical issues and develop practical solutions on a range of issues related to stress management. Acas also offers training courses about Stress in the workplace.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions area for more information.

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