Stressed workers 'fearful of the sack'

Workers are fearful that they will lose their jobs if they admit to suffering from stress in their employment, it has been claimed. According to Mind's Taking Care of Business campaign, a person's job is the most stressful part of their life in the modern day.

The mental health charity discovered that one-in-five people believe their position would be in jeopardy should they admit to feelings of stress or depression at work.

Findings from the survey showed that 41 per cent of employees are currently stressed or very stressed, with two-in-three workers placed under greater pressure from their managers since the economic downturn.

Indeed, one-third of those polled said they felt stressed as a consequence of extra focus on budget reductions.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, commented: "Pressure and stress may be part of our working lives, but failing to recognise that everyone has a limit is a mistake that costs businesses billions of pounds a year."

Dr Michael Sinclair, Chartered Psychologist and author of the self-help book Fear and Self-Loathing in the City: A Guide to Keeping Sane in the Square Mile, said: "These findings do not surprise me at all. We have seen a steady increase in the number of employees presenting for psychological treatment due to work-related stress at our London based clinics (Canary Wharf, Liverpool Street and Harley Street) since the onset of the economic downturn."

"It is evident that the demands placed on employees have increased since companies are downsizing and reducing costs. Stigma around mental health problems is rife, as is competition, particularly within the culture of the corporate workplace."

"Employees report feeling scared that should they show any sign of 'weakness, they might be 'the next marched out of the office'."

"They are maintaining a level of 'presenteeism' (working despite feeling unwell), while also working harder and longer hours. There is a definite sense of fear and trepidation amongst employees we meet and their attempts to hide their increasing levels of stress has led to further mental health problems such as severe depression, an array of anxiety disorders and a whole host of chronic somatic complaints."

"More education is needed within the workplace, to start to breakdown the stigma and associated fear of stress and mental health problems. A working culture that does not accept the limitations and fallibility of its employees will undoubtedly breed fear, increase levels of stress and ultimately incur significant health financial costs for businesses."

The Metro recently reported that Childline has witnessed an upturn in the number of students self-harming as a direct result of anxiety over exams.