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Majority of stressed workers hide their problems from colleagues

More than 13 million UK workers (almost one in four) have taken time off in the last five years because of work-related stress, according to research from insurance firm LV=.

'Secret' stress

The report said that the majority of workers hid their problems from their colleagues - 54 per cent said they were suffering from another illness rather than admit they were stressed.

Of those, more than a third said they were scared of admitting the truth to their colleagues for fear of being labelled 'weak', while a quarter said they were too embarrassed to come clean about their stress.

Seven out of ten respondents went back to work early after suffering from workplace stress, because of guilt (38 per cent), or worry about what fellow workers might think (35 per cent). Almost one in six continued working despite their diagnosis of stress.

The survey of 2,000 workers suggests that the taboo surrounding stress is still a concern.

Heavy workload

As for the causes of workplace stress, more than a half blamed unrealistic deadlines and heavy workload (56 per cent); long working hours (53 per cent); and lack of support and training (44 per cent).

Other studies have suggested that employers need to do more to create supportive workplaces in which workers feel comfortable talking about mental health issues with colleagues. Until this is done, taboos are likely to remain.

Research has also found that a culture of support benefits the entire workforce, not just those undergoing stress. Others get the reassurance that support is available for them or their colleagues when they need it.

Acas publications and services

Acas has detailed information on Dealing with stress in the workplace and the pdf icon Promoting positive mental health in the workplace [386kb] which aims to help stress reduction in the workplace, addressing its causes and coping with its symptoms.

Acas experts can visit your organisation and help you identify the causes of stress, absenteeism, and high staff turnover. See Stress: how Acas can help for more information.

Practical Acas training on Health, work and wellbeing, Stress, Staff retention and Skills for supervisors covers topics such as tackling 'Toxic workplace cultures', and 'Building Stress Resilience in the Workplace'.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

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

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