Dr C: “There’s no shame in be­ing off with stress”

UK work­ers feel guilty for tak­ing time off for a men­tal health rea­son, but Dr C says stress, anx­i­ety & de­pres­sion should be taken se­ri­ously

Closer (UK) - - Contents -

Many of us feel M we can’t take time away from work for a men­tal health rea­son, yet 94 per cent of HRS say de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety are ad­e­quate rea­sons to call in sick, and 80 per cent say work­place stress is le­git­i­mate.


Stress, de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety are just as valid as other health prob­lems. Peo­ple need re­cov­ery time, and there’s no shame in that. Of course, it’s im­por­tant to dis­tin­guish be­tween nor­mal stress and men­tal ill­ness; most peo­ple will feel some stress and, to some ex­tent, it works in our favour – help­ing us to hit dead­lines and be proac­tive – but men­tal ill­ness, be that de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety or some­thing else, needs treat­ment.


There isn’t one symp­tom I can sug­gest that would mean you need to take time off, it’s more about an in­abil­ity to cope. You may no­tice you’re ir­ri­ta­ble, anx­ious, un­able to switch off, dread­ing work, can’t con­cen­trate or you’re tear­ful. You may also have phys­i­cal symp­toms, such as poor sleep, mus­cle pain, headaches, grind­ing your teeth at night, chest pains or panic at­tacks. If you’re suf­fer­ing with any of these, see your GP. If they sign you off work, it’s for a very good rea­son. Some­times, all it takes is a week’s rest – some­times it can take a lot longer – but a doc­tor doesn’t hand out sick notes eas­ily, so you should take it se­ri­ously, as should your em­ployer.

It’s also im­por­tant not to let stress build up. That means tak­ing your an­nual leave, but also mak­ing time for breaks dur­ing your day, if pos­si­ble. We’re all very bad at down­time, but we need it. Some­times peo­ple can’t take a full lunch­break, or go for a walk af­ter a stress­ful meet­ing, but you can fac­tor in down­time at home.

There are three pil­lars to good health: diet, ex­er­cise and rest, so avoid fill­ing every even­ing with ac­tiv­i­ties, and don’t feel guilty about sim­ply re­lax­ing.


You may need to talk to your man­ager or some­one from HR about your work­load, be­cause your em­ployer has a re­spon­si­bil­ity when it comes to your health as well. Think what could help, such as flex­i­ble hours, work­ing from home or shar­ing cer­tain tasks. You may worry they’ll judge you, but you need to find so­lu­tions. The sooner you deal with stress, the sooner you’ll get it sorted. ● We need your help to make it a le­gal re­quire­ment to have trained men­tal health first aiders in every work­place or col­lege. Sign our pe­ti­tion at wheresy­our­hea­dat.org.

Dr C’s check-up


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.