Stress and Mental Wellbeing

As a Mindful Employer we know that mental health at work is as important as physical health. We recognise that we have a legal as well as a moral duty to protect all aspects of the health of our people whilst they are at work.

Below you can find advice on:

Support to help you cope


Online Therapy

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If you need help coping there are a range of different ways to get support:

You can also see our pages on:

Additional sources of external support include:

How to identify stress

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Mindful Employer

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Addressing stress can have a significant impact on individual and organisational wellbeing.

Stress is defined by the Health & Safety Executive as:

"the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demands placed upon them."

The six Stress Management Standards are:

  • Demands – workload, work patterns and the work environment
  • Control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work
  • Support – the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues
  • Relationships – promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
  • Role – whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles
  • Change – how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation.

A moderate amount of pressure can be positive, making us more alert, helping to keep us motivated and making us perform better. 

However too much pressure or prolonged pressure can lead to stress which in the long term can contribute to health problems such as:-

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Stomach and duodenal ulcers
  • Asthma
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Stress affects different people in different ways and everyone has a different method of dealing with it.

These are some of the symptoms that are indicators of too much pressure, which can come from yourself, work, home or a combination or maybe all three;


  • Inability to concentrate or make simple decisions
  • Worrying
  • Forgetfulness
  • Memory lapses
  • Negative thinking


  • Tearful
  • Irritable
  • Lack of motivation
  • Mood Swings
  • Feeling out of control


  • Aches/pains & muscle tension
  • Constipation/diarrhoea
  • Dizziness/palpitations
  • Panic attacks/nausea
  • Physical tiredness


  • Insomnia or waking tired
  • Aggressive/anger outbursts
  • Nervousness
  • Unable to relax
  • Social withdrawal

What can I do about stress?

You need to recognise that there could be a problem, by recognising the symptoms, trying to identify the causes, and dealing with them one at a time.

If the problem is work related you should wherever possible inform your line manager in order to give an opportunity to help resolve the problems.

If you feel unable to do this then you can contact the Occupational Health Adviser or your Human Resources Manager.

Preventing stress

Being able to identify what is causing stress is an important step in preventing it.  Identifying the triggers will help you to avoid them and will help you to recognise the symptoms when you are becoming stressed again.

Stress busting tips

  • Find out what causes you stress
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle
  • Learn to manage your time more effectively
  • Know your limitations and do not take on too much
  • Find time to relax
  • Find time to do the things you enjoy
  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine as coping mechanisms
  • Develop positive thinking
  • Taking regular exercise to improve physical fitness and assist in coping with the daily stresses of life.
  • Keep good working hours, take lunch breaks.

Remember “stress” comes from every aspect of life not just the working environment, so these skills can be applied to everyday life as well as work.  Also think about your colleagues.  Are they suffering from the effects of stress? If they are and you feel unable to help, talk it over with someone you can trust.

Stress & Wellbeing Group

In recognition of the University’s commitment to ensuring a healthy staff and student population, who are positively engaged, socially responsible and aligned with institutional goals, a strategic Stress and Wellbeing Group has been formed. The aim of the group is to provide a forum for discussion, evaluation, direction and guidance for enhancing staff and student wellbeing and the development of related policies, initiatives, training and processes that seek to create a positive and supportive working environment at the University. The group membership consists of a range of staff, student and Union representatives from across the University. T find out who your Faculty / Service representative is, please email Sue Poxton.

Health and Wellbeing Initiatives

Health and Wellbeing initiatives are arranged to provide staff and students with the opportunity to have access to health related advice, guidance and resources to enable them to make informed decisions on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Large and smaller health events take place on both main campus sites.

  • Continuing to develop links within the NHS to provide health advice that is of both national and regional importance.
  • Continuing to develop links within the voluntary and charity sector
  • Take into consideration the North East Health Profile reports when planning health initiatives.
  • Collaborative work internally between Stress and Wellbeing Group, Occupational Health, Health & Wellbeing Student Services, Institute of Sport, Student Union.
  • Evaluation of health initiatives used to feed into future planning of events.
  • Analysis of Wellbeing data to establish trends that will support preventative action.
  • Use Staff Survey information to guide and inform policy development and wellbeing activities.

Personal resilience

We offer courses in personal resilience. These aim to give an opportunity for you to discover your own personal resilience and how to build on this. All staff are welcome to attend.

Find out if any personal resilience courses are scheduled.  If you can’t find the course you are looking for or would like to arrange development for your team please contact us.

This page was published on 19 February 2020