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Work is the biggest source of stress, says survey

Debt, financial problems, poor health - it's hard to think of many things more stressful. And yet, it's not these - but work - that has been found to be the biggest cause of stress in people's lives.

More than one in three people (34 per cent) said that work life was either very or quite stressful, compared to 30 per cent for debt problems and 17 per cent for health, according to a survey of 2,000 people undertaken by the mental health charity Mind.

The detrimental impact of work-related stress was also uncovered. The research found that over half (57 per cent) were drinking after work and one in seven (14 per cent) drank during the day to cope. Others used anti-depressants (15 per cent), over-the-counter or prescribed sleeping medication (16 and 10 per cent respectively).

Nearly one in five respondents (18 per cent) had developed anxiety because of workplace stress, and around one in ten (7 per cent generally and 10 per cent for 18 to 24 year olds) were having suicidal thoughts.

The problem wasn't helped by poor communication between employees and management, and lack of pastoral support. One in five (19 per cent) said they felt they couldn't tell their boss about their stress, and fewer than half of the 22 per cent who had a diagnosed mental health problem had informed their boss of their diagnosis.

It seems that most managers are aware of a problem and want to help, but don't know how. More than half (56 per cent) said they would like to do more to improve the mental wellbeing of their staff, but needed more training and guidance.

This is where Acas comes in. Not only is Acas Mental health in the workplace, but it also offers training to help managers and supervisors raise awareness of mental health issues in the workplace and manage them effectively. Particularly relevant are courses on Stress and Mental Health Awareness for Employers.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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