Stress Awareness Day: Prioritising Wellbeing in the NHS

Stress Awareness Day is a solemn reminder of the toll that stress can take on our lives, especially in high-pressure work environments. In the healthcare sector, the NHS stands as a prime example, where dedicated staff work tirelessly to provide the best care for patients. According to the 2022 NHS Staff Survey results, work-related stress continues to be a significant issue, with 40.6% of staff reporting feelings of unwellness. This statistic, although a slight decrease from 2021, is still higher than pre-pandemic levels, emphasising the urgency of addressing stress within the NHS.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), responsible for regulating workplace safety in the NHS, defines work-related stress as "the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them." It's an acknowledgment that stress isn't just a personal issue but a work-related hazard that can lead to harm. In response to this, the HSE expects employers to implement measures that mitigate and reduce stress in the workplace.

Stress within the NHS is a multifaceted issue that affects both individuals and the entire healthcare system. Let's delve into some key aspects of the problem and explore why addressing stress is crucial:

  • Healthcare Professionals' Wellbeing: The wellbeing of NHS staff is paramount. These dedicated professionals often work long hours, make tough decisions, and face emotionally taxing situations daily. Work-related stress not only affects their physical and mental health but also erodes job satisfaction and morale. This, in turn, affects the quality of care they can provide to patients.
  • Patient Care: When healthcare professionals are stressed and overwhelmed, their ability to provide top-notch care may be compromised. Addressing work-related stress is a vital step toward ensuring the NHS can consistently deliver excellent patient care. A healthier and happier workforce is better equipped to provide the support and treatment that patients need.
  • Reducing Turnover: High levels of stress can lead to burnout, which, in turn, contributes to high staff turnover. When staff members leave, it places additional pressure on those who remain, perpetuating the cycle of stress. Reducing stress in the workplace can help retain valuable, experienced staff members.
  • Financial Impact: The cost of work-related stress is not just in human terms; it also has a significant financial impact. Absenteeism, decreased productivity, and increased healthcare costs all contribute to a considerable financial burden on the NHS.

So, what can be done to address work-related stress within the NHS?

1. Supportive Work Environments: Employers must foster environments that prioritise staff wellbeing. This includes promoting a healthy work-life balance, offering mental health support, and encouraging open communication about stress-related concerns.

2. Training and Resources: Healthcare professionals should be equipped with the tools and resources they need to manage stress effectively. This can include resilience training, access to counselling, and stress management programs.

3. Reducing Workload: Strategies to manage workload and reduce excessive pressure should be implemented. This can include proper staffing levels, streamlined administrative tasks, and clear protocols for managing high-pressure situations.

4. Employee Involvement: Involving employees in decision-making processes can help them feel more in control of their work. This empowerment can contribute to reduced stress levels.

Stress Awareness Day serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of addressing work-related stress, particularly within the NHS. This issue impacts not only the health and happiness of healthcare professionals but also the quality of care provided to patients and the overall sustainability of the healthcare system. By taking proactive steps to reduce stress in the workplace, we can ensure that the NHS continues to thrive and deliver the exceptional care that the UK relies on. Stress management and support must become integral components of our healthcare culture, ultimately helping the NHS to heal those who heal us.

At The Better Health Generation, we understand that mental wellbeing is a cornerstone of personal and professional success. We are committed to promoting positive mental health and ensuring that individuals in Scotland can access the support they need to thrive in their workplaces. That's why we are proud to introduce our Access to Work service in partnership with Able Futures. It is a transformative program designed to empower Scottish employees aged 16 and above who are seeking mental health support and guidance in their professional lives.

The Access to Work service, provided by The Better Health Generation, is a 9 month, fully-funded programme sponsored by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). This service is designed to offer a helping hand to individuals who are seeking to enhance their mental wellbeing while navigating the challenges of the modern workplace. The service is available at absolutely no cost to the users, making it accessible to all who require support.

Are you interested in this programme? Contact us here.