Wellbeing at work

Mental wellbeing is a state in which we are able to realise our own potential, cope with the normal stresses of life and work productively and fruitfully. 

In promoting mental wellbeing we can increase our resilience to cope with life's difficulties and be able to enjoy life as we should. Being in employment and engaged in meaningful activity is an important part of good mental health.

There are many ways to improve mental wellbeing such as by being physically active and by taking opportunities for relaxation and social activities. It's important to remember that we cannot prevent or treat serious mental illness which requires expert help. In these cases people should be encouraged to seek professional support as early as possible.

What is stress?Two women, one on a computer

The Health and Safety Executive defines stress as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them”.

Pressure is part of life and helps keep us motivated but excessive pressure can lead to stress. If stress is excessive or goes on for some time, it can lead to mental ill health. Stress can be caused by factors at work or at home, with factors at home being the more frequent cause. It’s important to note that stress can impact people in different ways – what might be positive pressure that spurs an employee on to do better, may be negative and excessive stress to someone else.

How people cope with pressure will be affected by a variety of factors, including the amount of support available from friends, family and the workplace, as well as personal coping mechanisms.

What is a mental health problem?

It can be difficult to know when ‘stress' turns into a mental health problem, or when existing mental health problems are made worse by stress at work.

It’s estimated that at any one time, one in four adults in the UK is experiencing some kind of mental health problem.

There are a variety of treatments available and most people will recover fully in time. The vast majority of people who have experienced a mental health problem continue to work, or return to work, successfully.

Within the workplace

When we are mentally healthy we are more likely to fulfill our potential, function well, cope with and enjoy work and to make healthy choices about our lives.

The workplace can make a positive contribution to mental wellbeing by creating the right environment, having good management structures and by being positive about the employment of people who have experienced mental health problems.


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