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Is Stress a Common Occurrence?

Stress affects everyone at some point in their lives. Stress can be caused by a wide range of factors and events and is commonplace in society today. People experience different types and levels of stress in their lives and find different ways of managing their own stress. While a degree of stress in one’s live can help motivation and performance, high levels of stress can be harmful. When stress and pressure exceed a person’s ability to cope, stress has a significantly negative impact on everyday life. It is important to be able to recognise levels of stress that are potentially harmful to your life and the people around you.

Stress is increasingly becoming an issue in today’s society as more and more people are coming under mounting pressures at work, at home and in their social lives. The UK’s Health and Safety Executives research showed that in the UK alone, 105 million work days are lost to stress each year (Stress Management Society, 2009). Other significant findings of the research concluded that:

  • 11% of absence at work is attributed to stress
  • 52% say stress levels are increasing
  • 60% claim stress is damaging staff retention
  • 83% think stress is harming productivity (Stress Management Society, 2009)

Overall, mental health around the world is a significant issue, with the number of people suffering from some form of mental distress growing year by year. The Office for National Statistics in the United Kingdom (2009) estimates that one in six adults at any one time have ‘significant’ mental health problems. Another major survey that is frequently quoted puts the figure at one in four, using a wider definition of mental health problems (Mind, 2009).

The breakdown below gives an overview of mental health in Britain alone, showing the forms of treatment commonly required:

  • Around 300 people out of 1,000 will experience mental health problems every year in Britain
  • 230 of these will visit a GP
  • 102 of these will be diagnosed as having a mental health problem
  • 24 of these will be referred to a specialist psychiatric service
  • 6 will become inpatients in psychiatric hospitals (Mind, 2009; Based on figures from Goldberg, D. & Huxley, P, 1992, Common mental disorders a bio-social model, Routledge.)

Stress Fact
Approximately 12 million adults see their GPs with mental health problems each year in the UK
Mental Health Foundation

According to the National Health Service (NHS, 2009), in the UK, anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems, and the majority of cases are caused by stress. Research by mental health charities also suggests that a quarter of the population will have a mental health problem at some point in their lives.

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