Wellbeing: When does stress start to damage your mental health?

Wellbeing: When does stress start to damage your mental health?

When does stress start to become detrimental to our mental health? What effect do my stress levels have on others around me?  How can I become more resilient?  Kathryn Ryan at Cityparents shares some perspectives and Miranda Arya from Great Minds offers advice on dealing with stress. 

Stress is big in the City; our 2018 Cityparents survey results show that stress is the number one form of mental ill health experienced by our members, with 81% of those reporting mental ill health classifying this as stress.  

Excessive working hours, long commutes and demanding workloads often lead to working environments where stress becomes part of the organisational culture and those who feel unwell due to high stress levels fear judgement and discrimination.  Employers have a clear responsibility to support stress management in the workplace and to establish genuinely transparent cultures where employees feel supported and are not judged.  But there are steps we can take as individuals to recognise our own stress points, actively manage our own stress levels and to ask for help when needed.

City careers are often stressful…

Insights from our Cityparents members show that for many people, stress and burnout are standard features of a City career that infiltrate the organisational culture and should be expected and managed. There’s a clear sense that people feel like they should be able to cope and tellingly, many people don’t consider stress to be a form of mental ill health, rather it’s just something that happens every now and then and needs to be dealt with. 


…and it won’t do me any good to ask for help

Despite concerted efforts by employers to improve transparency around mental ill health, it’s clear that many of our members still feel reluctant to disclose their own issues.  64% of our survey respondents said they did not disclose their mental ill health to others at work.  Whilst some commented that this was because they ‘wanted to keep it private’, other comments included ‘Í didn’t want to appear weak’, ‘I feared judgement… and discrimination’.

It’s quite common for people to manage to balance everything until one incident pushes us over the brink of our resilience and we can no longer cope.  And worryingly, insights from our survey suggest that many people would rather leave their current job and find something less stressful then raise their issues with their current colleagues and ask for help.

City employers are starting to help but there’s more they can do

Many of the City firms we work with have focused their efforts on supporting employees’ mental wellbeing and this has been well received.  49% of our survey respondents noted the importance of employers providing practical support including training on topics such as managing stress and resilience. However, whilst practical support is clearly important to employees, the top changes people would like to see relate to howpeople work.  Senior role models, workloads and a culture of openness are critical to establishing truly supportive workplaces that minimise work-related stress.  Managers need to be aware that their own responses to stress can trickle down the organisation and create stress for other people.  

Miranda Arya, Founding Partner of Great Minds says: 

We can all take certain steps to help manage our own stress levels and become resilient.

We all experience stress differently and our ability to be resilient to stress can fluctuate depending on many factors. City employers have a responsibility to address the root causes of stress in the workplace – such as looking afresh at job design and resourcing patterns - and to create organisational cultures where employees feel supported to reveal their concerns and not judged for them.  However, we can also identify our personal stress points, take steps to build our resilience and reach out in different ways for help when things feel unmanageable over the longer-term.  

Miranda says:


Five tips from Great Minds for managing excessive stress:


Looking for further support?

If you’re feeling overly stressed and you need to talk to someone outside of work or home life, or browse some online advice, then check out these links on our Cityparents website. 

We can provide support to employers looking to implement a new approach to stress management including speaking at in-house events and arranging guest speakers or seminars for expert input.  If you’d like to discuss this further, please drop us a lineand we’ll be happy to talk with you.

Kathryn Ryan is a Senior Consultant at Cityworks Forum.  Email Kathryn here.

Miranda Ayra is Founding Partner of Great Minds, an organisation that helps businesses to address mental health issues at work. For more information about Great Minds visit https://www.greatminds.uk.com/

Twitter: @greatmindsWMH

Released On 4th Oct 2018

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