How to spot the signs of stress and manage mental health
April is National Stress Awareness Month, giving organisations a great opportunity to draw attention to the causes of stress, the warning signs and how to tackle this modern epidemic.
Unfortunately, it’s a problem that’s still far too common. More than 12 million working days are lost each year as a result of stress* and research by the Mental Health Foundation** found that 74% of people had felt so stressed in the previous year that they been overwhelmed or unable to cope. Employers have a legal responsibility to protect employees from the negative effects of work-related stress. This includes carrying out a risk assessment and implementing any changes it might highlight.
If you have a Legal & General Group Protection policy, your employees can access our comprehensive employee assistance programme provided through our partner Health Assured. This service is a positive, preventative and supportive advice service that’s designed to help employees deal with emotional issues including mental health, stress and coping with grief.
Spotting the signs
Being able to recognise the signs of stress as early as possible is essential. This enables an employer to support the individual; reduce or remove the causes of stress; and prevent it becoming a serious mental health problem.
Everyone responds differently to stress but the following signs can indicate a potential problem:
- Personality changes including becoming more withdrawn, nervous or irritable
- Lack of concentration
- Loss of motivation, commitment and confidence
- Short-tempered and more aggressive
- Mood swings and more emotional reactions
- More accident prone
- Decreased performance
- More time off work and poor time keeping
- Dramatic changes in weight
Where an employee is showing any of these signs, it’s important to speak to them. This could be through a conversation with their line manager, an HR representative or, if the company has them, a mental health first aider.
Finding out what’s wrong, taking action where appropriate, and signposting them to additional help and support such as the company’s employee assistance programme can make a big difference.
It’s also sensible to look at a higher level to see if there’s a stress problem within the organisation. Warning signs include high staff turnover; increased absence; low productivity and efficiency; long-hours work culture and employees not taking their full holiday entitlement.
Implementing initiatives around Stress Awareness Month will help to demonstrate that the organisation takes stress and employee health and wellbeing seriously. By removing the stigmas associated with stress, it will create a culture in which employees feel able to talk about any issues openly and ask for help when necessary.
Find out more about the employee assistance programme services that are available with our Group Protection products and how they can support your employees deal with stress here.