United Kingdom National Work-Stress Network

UK National Stress Network

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What's New 09.09.14

Our Conference final booking date for a discount is September 16. Book now to avoid disappointment

Work-Stress.net Annual Conference 2014 announcement

What next?

Tackling work-stress in an uncertain future - we're dying to ease the burden on business!

This conference takes place as we approach a General Election and a possible change of Government.
Saturday November 22nd to Sunday 23rd, 2014

Speakers and workshop sessions will examine the future of health and safety including particular reference to the mental health and gender in the workplace. It will provide a forum for discussion for Safety Representatives and others on the front line of combating work-stress the 21st century epidemic..

Speakers will include Dr David Whyte, Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology Dept., Liverpool University; co-author with Steve Tombs and others "Reappraising Regulation - the politics of regulatory retreat in the UK"

Tracey Harding, National Officer H&S, UNISON

Rebecca Norris, NHS Scotland, Work and Wellbeing

Jeffry Zindani, Solicitor

Conference Chair, Carolyn Jones, Director, Institute of Employment Rights, Liverpool

Workshops will include:-
Corporate Violence and Work, Gender and Stress, Raising H&S Issues for the General Election, Legal Update on Stress Cases, Disability and workplace stresses, Data gathering for Risk Assessments, Job Insecurity and Stress, Work-Stress Burnout and Sleep deprivation, and more.......

Prices held at 2013 level - early Bird discount 10% by booking before 16th September 2014.

To access the booking details and form via PDF and MS Word follow the links!

More must be done to help people with mental health problems stay in work

Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies says mental illness cost £100bn last year yet 75% of people received no treatment

Dame Sally Davies said around 70m working days were lost to mental illness last year.More help is urgently needed to help people with mental health problems stay in their jobs, says the government's chief medical officer, warning of the toll of mental illness on individuals and the economy.

Dame Sally Davies said that around 70m working days were lost to mental illness last year, costing the economy £70 to £100bn. The number of working days lost to stress, depression and anxiety has risen by 24% since 2009, she says in her annual report. Yet 75% of people with diagnosable mental illness get no treatment at all. 'The costs of mental illness to the economy are astounding. Through this report, I urge commissioners and decision-makers to treat mental health more like physical health,' said Davies. 'Anyone with mental illness deserves good quality support at the right time. One of the stark issues highlighted in this report is that 60 to 70% of people with common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety are in work, so it is crucial that we take action to help those people stay in employment to benefit their own health as well as the economy.' There is a great need for earlier treatment for children and young people with mental health problems, she said. Half of adult mental illness starts before the age of 15 and 75% by the age of 18. Unless young people get help, they risk a life of problems including unemployment, substance misuse, crime and antisocial behaviour. 'Under-investment in mental health services, particularly for young people, simply does not make sense economically,' she said.

Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said that for many people with mental illness, having a job can be a crucial of managing their condition and staying well. 'But often people get very little support to go back to work after a period of mental illness, or to stay in employment,' he said. 'Many employers also assume that if you have a mental health problem, you won't be able to hold down a job.' More specialist help to get people with mental illness back into the workplace and greater understanding from employers was needed, he said. But those who were unable to work because of their condition should not be demonised.

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, agreed with the emphasis on keeping people in work and supported Davies' call for more mental health training for all doctors as well as waiting time and access standards for patients.

Professor Sheila Hollins, chair of the British Medical Association's Board of Science said: 'We are encouraged by this report and will continue to call for equal treatment for both physical and mental health patients, the reduction of waiting times for mental health patients, and the introduction of equal funding between mental health services and other NHS services.'

Germany: Ban on out-of-office contact investigate

Taken from TUC Risks 670, 05.09.14

German employment minister Andrea Nahles is considering new 'anti-stress' legislation that would ban companies from contacting employees out of hours. Concerns over rising levels of workplace stress prompted the minister to commission a report investigating the viability of legislation that would restrict the use of emails to contact staff outside of work. She told journalists: 'There is an undeniable relationship between constant availability and the increase of mental illness. We have commissioned the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to work out whether it is possible to set load thresholds. We need universal and legally binding criteria.'It is already illegal in Germany for employers to contact staff during holidays. Several major companies such as Volkswagen and BMW have also implemented their own restrictions on contacting employees out of hours. Last year the German Labour Ministry banned managers from contacting staff outside of work. Recently, car manufacturer Daimler installed software on its systems which automatically deletes emails sent to staff out of hours. A study released recently by the union DGB showed that increasing numbers of German workers are retiring early through stress. The findings of the workplace stress report will be delivered next year. Earlier this year, unions and employers in France’s technology and consultancy sectors agreed a legally binding agreement that workers would no longer have to answer work emails or phone calls outside work hours,

UNISON Sets a Date for Work Stress Action

Taken from TUC Risks 662, 12.07.14

UNISON is calling on its members to campaign against government spending cuts it says are putting both stressed-out workers and communities at risk. The public sector union say October's stress-themed European Health and Safety Week will provide a vital opportunity to promote good health and safety practice. According to UNISON, job cuts are leaving those who remain faced with rising workloads, while cuts to pay and the fear of redundancy combine to hit morale and leave workers stressed. 'That's a toxic cocktail that can make work unhealthy, while a workforce that is stressed and distracted by financial worries is also unlikely to provide the very best service', it adds. The union points out that the theme of this year's European Health and Safety Week, which takes from 20-26 October, is 'Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress' It notes that 'if an employer fails to properly assess for stress, and then implement measures to prevent and control it, workers are put at risk and a workplace can become unhealthy.' UNISON says the health and safety week provides an 'ideal opportunity' for safety reps to raise stress at work with management and their members, and to 'campaign for properly-funded, publicly-provided local services, thus challenging the cuts that harm health and safety and the services themselves.' It adds the union should 'recruit and organise against the spending and pay cuts, and the attack on jobs and health and safety'

Look Who is Supporting the Network

It's none other than Ricky Tomlinson. Thanks Ricky.

Ricky Tomlinson supports the Stress Network

Stressed teachers 'at breaking point'

Taken from TUC Risks 658, 14 June 2014

Scotland's teachers 'are at breaking point' over increased workloads and changes to their jobs, the union EIS has warned. General secretary Larry Flanagan told the union's annual conference last week there was evidence many teachers were struggling to cope. A recent health and wellbeing survey, commissioned by the EIS, suggested severe workload pressures were placing strain on teachers and leading to increased stress and health problems. The EIS leader said: 'Teachers are becoming increasingly worn out and frustrated. The message they are sending out is that enough is enough - action is needed now to lighten the load on our teachers.' He added:'The evidence is that many teachers are increasingly approaching breaking point. They have been driven there by a combination of factors that are out of their control. The budget-cutting austerity agenda has reduced both staffing and resource levels in schools, placing increasing pressure on teachers to achieve more with less.'

Help Needed To Test a Stress Information Toolkit

The Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) is currently carrying out a project funded by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU OSHA) to develop an information toolkit on stress and psychosocial risks at work. This important piece of work will eventually be translated into all of the different official languages of the EU and will help the managers and owners of micro and small businesses to understand this topic. Here in the UK, evidence from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows that the incidence of lost time due to stress-related problems at work is increasing; and has overtaken musculoskeletal problems as the main cause of sickness absence and a similar pattern can be seen throughout the EU so it is important to get it right.

As part of this work the IOM need to recruit the owners or managers of some small (11-50 employees) and micro (1-10 employees) companies to help evaluate the toolkit content and its usability. This will be done through the use of an online survey questionnaire. If you complete the survey you will be entered in to a draw to win a Kindle or equivalent monetary value donation to charity. In addition to this, as a result of your participation in this work the IOM will ensure that on final completion of the e-guide they will provide you with an updated version.

If you are interested in taking part in this evaluation then please get in touch with the IOM either richard.graveling@iom-world.org or alice.davis@iom-world.org (these e-mail addresses are not active on this page) or visit their website www.iom-world.org/news-events/news/2014/help-the-iom-to-test-a-stress-information-toolkit/

Extended Timeline of Unions in the UK

Trade unions are an integral part of the UK workforce, with the TUC representing 6.2 million trade union members in 2013 across 54 affiliated unions. With such a large number of trade unions in the UK, it can be difficult to learn about each trade union and how they came to be. By utilising design and interactivity, the timeline (click here to go to the website) aims to make information about unions in the UK more accessible

The Health and Safety of Older Workers- Guidance

A Guide for Workplace Representatives

There is a higher proportion of older people in Britain now than at any time in recent history and it is likely to increase. At present one in every six people is over the age of 65, but by 2033 that is expected to rise to almost one in four. We are also seeing changes in the number of older people in the workplace. The number of people aged 65 and over reached the 1 million mark for the first time in 2013. This is partly because we are living longer but also because birth-rates are falling

This guidance, downloadable using this link, will help workplace representatives accommodate for an ageing workforce

Healthy Working Lives Scotland

Healthy Working Lives are Scotland's national service here to help employers create a safer, healthier and more motivated workforce. We work with all kinds of businesses, completely free of charge, offering practical information and advice to help improve health and safety and the wellbeing of everyone at work.

For further information please go to our Links page

TUC Guide for Safety Reps to Safety and Migrant Workers

This is the introduction from the Online guide

The issue of the safety of migrant workers in the UK became a national issue when at least 23 workers were killed by rising tides while harvesting cockles in Morecambe Bay. Since then there have been a number of further individual tragedies, mainly in agriculture and construction. Unfortunately there are no accurate figures on the number of migrant workers who are killed, injured or made ill through work. However many migrant workers do face specific difficulties and this guide from the TUC has been written to help safety representatives and other union officials work with migrant workers to make sure that their rights are protected.

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UK 'worst' on workforce mental health support

Taken from TUC Risks 642, February 15th 2013

The UK is the worst performing OECD country when it comes to supporting workforce mental health, a new report has found. 'Mental health and work: The United Kingdom', published this week by the OECD, says better policies and practices by employers and the health system are needed to help people deal with mental health issues and get back to work. It notes the majority of benefit claimants with mental health problems need a combination of health and employment interventions to improve their chances of finding a suitable job, adding that the new Health at Work Service should "have a strong focus on mental health". Speaking at the launch of the report, Professor Stephen Bevan, director of the Centre of Workforce Effectiveness at The Work Foundation, said: "One in six workers in the UK experience mental health difficulties with depression, stress and anxiety the most prevalent. As today's report reveals, the UK has the highest number of new disability benefits claims in the world with mental health difficulties the leading cause. The impact is felt not only in lost productivity and high sickness absence, but on individual self-esteem and quality of life. We welcome the OECD's recommendations which will better support people with mental health difficulties to enter and remain in work"

New Stress Booklet

A new edition of our Work Stress booklet has been published and is available by clicking on the link here

2013 Annual Stress Network Conference

Well - the 2013 Annual Stress Network Conference was a great success. We had over 90 delegates the largest ever attendance. Very special thanks to our keynote speakers, especially Professor Phil Taylor and his marvellous cats, to Susan Murray at UNITE and to Geoff Smith and Russ Walters from NASUWT in the Northwest. Thanks also to workshop facilitators and especially to ALL delegates who helped to make the weekend another success. We value your support. And we hope to see you all next year!

The 2013 Conference report and supporting papers are now available to view and download. There are also links to a couple of YouTube videos to view

The conference newsletter is now available from our newsletters page.

The Conference page. links to our previous conferences

One in five employees have been forced to take time off work due to stress

One in five employees have been forced to take time off work due to stress after dealing with unrealistic expectations at work, a survey has found. The survey, conducted by serviced office provider Business Environment, found that a quarter (28.8 per cent) of workers feel stressed at work all, or most of, the time, and one fifth (21 per cent) said they took work home at least once or twice a week. Prolonged stress can lead to a variety of different health problems, including heart disease, depression, sleep deprivation and skin conditions.

Additionally, the survey found that some workers are turning to unhealthy methods of relaxation to combat their stress. Three per cent of workers have a cigarette to deal with stress, while six per cent turn to alcohol. Healthier, and more popular, methods of dealing with stress include going on a short walk to get fresh air (43.67 per cent), calling friends and family (32.66 per cent) and having a rant in private (28.02 per cent).

However, David Saul, managing director at Business Environment has warned that many companies are creating a culture where employees feel they are expected to work at all hours of the day at any cost. This research clearly shows that this is actually having a detrimental effect, not only on employee health and wellbeing, but also on the wider business with billions being lost in days taken off sick said Mr Saul. He continued: I believe all employers have a responsibility to challenge the status quo and cultivate an office environment where employees feel supported by senior staff and able to voice concerns before stress levels go through the roof. Of course, there will be times when employees are required to go above and beyond, but this should never be at the detriment to their health.

You can see more online by following this link

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England's mental health services 'in crisis'

By Michael Buchanan BBC News

The mental health service in England is in crisis and unsafe, says one of the country's leading psychiatrists. Dr Martin Baggaley, medical director of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, spoke out as an investigation by BBC News and Community Care magazine reveals more than 1,500 mental health beds have closed in recent years. Many trusts have all their beds filled.

Care Minister Norman Lamb said the current situation was "unacceptable" and provision must improve. While there was a drive to treat more people in the community, he said beds must be available when patients needed them.

To read the full story please visit the BBC News website

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Stressed workers suffering in silence, survey warns

There is a huge difference in the perceptions of managers and other staff about how mental health is addressed in the workplace, according to new statistics from the mental health charity, Mind.

The survey, which polled over 2,000 workers, suggests that stressed workers are suffering in silence. Of those polled, 45 per cent said that staff are expected to cope without mentioning stress at work, and a third (31 per cent) said they would not be able to talk openly to their line manager if they felt stressed.

The survey also found that while only 22 per cent of workers felt their boss takes active steps to help them manage stress, managers appeared to feel differently with 68 per cent saying they would find ways of helping staff who were stressed, or experiencing mental health problems.

Findings from Mind's survey include:

See more online at: the Safety and Health Practitioner website

Health and Safety Executive Bulletins

The HSE publish a Health and Safety Digest on their website weekly and the site is updated daily. For further information visit the What's New section at hse.gov.uk

Come Tweet with us

The Stress Network now has a Twitter page @workstressuk where you can keep up to date and join in conversations

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