Stress - early intervention

For all work-related ill health, the HSE recommends early intervention as a key aspect of ensuring the best outcome for the employee and employer.

Tackling the risk factors for work-related stress

There’s lots of good advice about what to do to tackle stress issues on the HSE’s what are the management standards pages. In particular, there’s advice about tackling each of the six factors:

  • demands – such as workload, work patterns and the work environment
  • control – such as how much say the person has in the way they do their work
  • support – such as the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues
  • relationships – such as promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
  • role – such as whether people understand their role in the organisation and whether the organisation makes sure that they don’t have conflicting roles
  • change – such as how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation

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The HSE Research Report ‘Beacons of excellence in stress prevention’ identifies good practice in stress prevention and management, and provides case study examples of organisations in the UK that have demonstrated good practice in stress prevention and management.

ACAS also provides advice about each of the six factors and how to tackle them in advisory booklet – stress at work.

Line management competences for preventing and reducing work-related stress

The HSE, in association with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Investors in People, has designed a tool to allow managers to assess whether they currently have the behaviours identified as effective for preventing and reducing stress at work. The following resources are available about the tool and its development:

More information about mental health interventions

Work and health: changing how we think about common health problems – a leaflet based on the evidence review of rehabilitation for the management of common health problems, by Professors Gordon Waddell and Kim Burton.

Recognition, resolution and recovery: early intervention to support psychological health and wellbeing is a reference guide from Australian Government Homecare aimed at helping managers to recognise the warning signs and take action to support at-risk employees.

Working for a healthier tomorrow – Dame Carol Black’s review of the health of working age people, including a section on early intervention.

Mental health and work – A report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, including advice on early intervention and prevention of sickness absence

Advice for employees

If you think you’re experiencing stress-related symptoms or suffering from a mental health problem, it may be a good idea to speak to your GP. It’s also advisable to talk to your line manager, human resources department or occupational health provider.

It could also be useful to review your lifestyle to see if you can identify any contributing factors. The HSE suggests avoiding the following:

  • eating on the run, or in a disorganised manner
  • smoking or drinking excessively
  • rushing, hurrying, being available to everyone
  • doing several jobs at once
  • missing breaks, taking work home with you
  • having no time for exercise and relaxation

The HSE provides a list of useful links to other organisations that might be able to help you with issues that are causing you to feel stressed.

Getting more help

A number of organisations offer help and advice.

  • Health, Work and Well-being is a government-led scheme that provides advice to improve the health and wellbeing of working age people.
  • Mindful Employer is a voluntary and informal network of employers and support organisations which provides information, advice and practical support on mental health issues to UK employers.
  • Healthy Working Lives Scotland has a free national advice line providing confidential advice and information on a wide range of workplace health issues, including health promotion; occupational safety and health; employability; and vocational rehabilitation. Their website also has other useful resources.
    NHS Health at Work offers a range of services to the employers through a national network of NHS occupational health businesses.
  • ACAS provide a helpline for both employers and employees who are involved in an employment dispute or are seeking information on employment rights and rules. The helpline provides clear, confidential, independent and impartial advice to assist the caller in resolving issues in the workplace.
  • The CIPD website provides information on harassment and bullying at work.

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