Dealing with stress and mental ill health in the workplace

The following Employment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Dealing with stress and mental ill health in the workplace
  • Reasons for tackling work-related stress and mental ill health
  • Relevant guidance
  • Tackling work-related stress
  • Taking steps to reduce work-related stress
  • Dealing with an individual who may be experiencing stress: Acas guidance
  • Identifying an individual who may be experiencing stress
  • Talking to an individual who may be experiencing stress
  • Supporting the individual
  • Monitoring the situation
  • More...

Dealing with stress and mental ill health in the workplace

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’. Stress is not in itself an illness, but can lead to conditions such as anxiety and depression. Stress, anxiety and depression can also increase the risk of conditions like heart disease, back pain, gastrointestinal illnesses or skin conditions.

According to Acas, the most common forms of mental ill health are anxiety, depression, phobic anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders. In some cases, these conditions may amount to a disability—see: Disability issues, below.

This Practice Note covers:

  1. the benefits of tackling work-related stress (sometimes known as occupational stress) and mental ill health

  2. the employer’s duties towards employees, including the duty of care to protect employee’s health and safety

  3. the particular issues that may arise where an employee is suffering from work-related stress or mental ill health affecting the employee’s work, and

  4. how to manage sickness absence and other issues related to stress or mental ill health and, ultimately, the steps to take when contemplating a fair dismissal for conduct or capability reasons

See also Practice Notes:

  1. Dealing with long-term or chronic sickness

  2. Dealing with persistent, intermittent, short-term absences

Reasons for tackling work-related stress and mental ill health

In general terms, reducing work-related stress can help to:

  1. make

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