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What support can I get for stress?
As it is stress awareness month, we will be looking at what stress is, what causes it and what the law says about stress. Most importantly we will be signposting where you can go to get support with stress if you need it.
What is stress?
Stress is an emotion that affects people of all ages. You may feel stressed when faced with a problem either at work, at home or when you have to make an important decision.
In some cases, stress is not always fundamentally bad, the ability to feel stress can help us sense if there’s danger or push us to reach our goals. Humankind would not have survived without stress.
Stress is associated with a force that can either be physical or emotional. However, stress is mostly, a physical response to the body realising hormones and chemicals when reacting to a dangerous situation like someone running out in front of your car. Stress is also an emotional response to feeling pressure to have that report done in time or making a big decision in family or work life. It can have a huge negative response. In the short term, it can lead you to feel irritated and anxious, and in the long term it could come across as being short-tempered to people you love, mentally and physically exhausted, in other words, burnt-out.
What causes stress?
Lots of things could cause you stress in your life and it’s sometimes difficult to pinpoint what exactly could be causing it. Stress could also vary for the individual and they may struggle to handle the matter in the same way someone else could.
Here are some reasons that could be causing you to be overwhelmed (NHS)
- Our individual genes, upbringing and experiences.
- Difficulties in our personal lives and relationships.
- Big or unexpected life changes, like moving house, having a baby or starting to care for someone.
- Money difficulties, like debt or struggling to afford daily essentials.
- Health issues, either for you or someone close to you.
- Pregnancy and children.
- Problems with housing, like the conditions, maintenance or tenancy.
- A difficult or troubled work environment.
- Feeling lonely and unsupported.
What the Law has to say about stress at work?
‘Legislation covering stress at work is surprisingly piecemeal. There is not one piece of law that covers it. Instead, protection comes from a wide range of regulations:’ (The Stress Management Society, 2015).
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain.
It set a universal duty which:
- employers have towards employees and members of the public
- employees have to themselves and to each other
- certain self-employed have towards themselves and others
(Health and Safety Executive, 2019).
The working time regulations 1998
Working time regulation was put in place to limit the number of hours that employees work each week.
Employees are required to work no more than 48 hours a week over an average of a 17-week period unless they choose to opt out.
You have a duty of being responsible for your own health and safety whether it be at work or at home.
As an employee, if you or anyone around you are struggling with the pressure of the workload and either yourself or a fellow employee is starting to put their mental health at risk. Talk to your employer and find a way that allows all parties to be relieved of stress.
If you are suffering from a personal matter, may that be a family matter or a life-long medical condition that will affect your everyday tasks you must talk to your employer so that alterations can be made in the workplace.
For more information on how to get support for stress-related issues, you can visit the NHS pages here.
If you require legal assistance with a personal, family, employment or business issue which is causing you stress, you can contact us here and one of our specialists will get back to you.
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