With figures revealing 15.4 million working days were lost through stress in 2017/18, Stress Awareness Month aims to increase public awareness of the issue. Taking place every April since 1992, the event focuses on the impact of stress, effects, and ways of managing it.
Although not defined as a mental health issue, stress is our body’s response to being put under pressure by something in our lives. Common reasons include financial pressures, relationships and health-related issues.
Working under stress can be positive, as it keeps us alert and motivated to achieve things. However, when it becomes overwhelming, a build-up can lead to physical health problems; as well as depression, anxiety and suicide.
Last year, the same survey by YouGov showed 51% of people who felt stressed also reported feeling depressed – with 61% feeling anxious. The impact can also lead to people feeling isolated, with 37% also reporting loneliness as a result.
Brighter Futures highlights that two effects of stress, mental and physical health, remain the two highest concerns for people contacting the Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline. Close to 1000 people have contacted for mental wellbeing support since the turn of the year (January 1, 2019) with 190 mental health concerns related to physical health.
Mark Lawton, Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline Manager, says: “we receive a lot of calls about things that affect us all – all of which can make us feel stressed at times. It’s not always easy to manage, and we urge anyone feeling overwhelmed to contact the Helpline for support. We know it isn’t easy or convenient to pick the phone, so you can also text us, email us or send us an instant message. We’re here to listen.”
One customer explains: “the helpline team phone me once a week as part of the ring out service and it really gives me a boost. I’d lost a lot of trust with mental health services, but knowing they were listening gave me belief in myself. I was able to develop techniques to better manage during bad times and eased my urge to self-harm.”
Throughout the month, Brighter Futures will be sharing tips on how to manage stress. Regular activities will also continue to take place across the Clubhouse Network to support people with mental health difficulties. This includes opportunities to meet people, training, one-to-one support and group activities.
People needing to access free confidential listening support or worried about the wellbeing of someone else can contact the Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline by ringing 0808 800 2234, texting: 07860 022821, emailing: email@example.com or via instant message: www.brighter-futures.org.uk. The Helpline is open 365 days year, weekdays 7pm-2am, weekends 2pm-2am.
The Brighter Futures Clubhouse Network is open seven-days-a-week – and is available to anyone aged 18 or over living in Stoke-on-Trent. There’s no need for a referral to join and people can find out more information by visiting: www.brighter-futures.org.uk/clubhouse-network/.