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Over 11 million days are lost at work a year because of stress at work. Some staff have to deal with violent and unpredictable patient/clients, others deal with traumatic and harrowing circumstances. Others have a lack of support or are not receiving enough communication about changes affecting them. The most important fact is the impact on the individual and how they feel able to manage those feelings.


Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work. HSE defines stress as 'the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them'.


Employees feel stress when they can't cope with pressures and other issues. Employers should match demands to employees' skills and knowledge. For example, employees can get stressed if they feel they don't have the skills or time to meet tight deadlines. Providing planning, training and support can reduce pressure and bring stress levels down.


Stress affects people differently - what stresses one person may not affect another. Factors like skills and experience, age or disability may all affect whether an employee can cope.


There are six main areas which can affect stress levels, they are: demands, control, support, relationships, role and change.


Signs of stress - Stress is not an illness but it can make you ill. Recognising the signs of stress will help employers to take steps to stop, lower and manage stress in their workplace.


How to help? - The earlier a problem is tackled the less impact it will have. If you think that an employee is having problems, encourage them to talk to someone, whether it's their line manager, trade union representative, GP or their occupational health team.


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