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Navigating the Stress Maze: managing stress for different age groups and scenarios

Wellness | 5-minute read

Posted on: Monday April 15, 2024

by Zach Berwick, New Business Development Director

It seems more important than ever to shed light on the significance of mental wellbeing and managing stress in the workplace. It’s something we will all have to deal with at various points in our lives, but not something we are all necessarily equipped to deal with.

Alarmingly, according to the World Health Organisation, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting more than 264 million people. Moreover, anxiety disorders are widespread, with over a shocking 284 million people suffering from them. It’s almost impossible to fathom such numbers but it does give us a sense that in the workplace and all around us, there are people struggling from all walks of life, dealing with challenges that are causing high levels of anxiety and stress.

As we know mental health is not limited to age; it's a universal concern and how businesses help their employees manage this in the workplace can contribute to better mental wellbeing. But what do we think are the key challenges that affect different age groups?

1. Childhood and Adolescence:
It's easy to think that kids don't have much to stress about, but it’s clear, post-pandemic that this couldn’t be further from the reality. Children missed out on so much during those vital months when we were in lockdowns, socially distancing and seeing terrifying statistics on the television. Let alone those who saw first-hand the impact of Covid on family members. We may not know the full impact of this for years to come. Managing stress during childhood and adolescence is important because these early years set the stage for a person's mental health throughout their life. Academic pressures, bullying, and social challenges contribute to stress during childhood. Parents, teachers, and caregivers must actively engage with young people, encouraging open communication and creating a supportive environment. It’s also important to seek professional support and advice should there be any concerns, as so many internalise feelings that grow in to larger problems.

2. Young Adulthood (18-35)
I know first-hand the stress that many young adults face. Being an adult is hard: from navigating higher education and career choices to finding independence, this stage can be very overwhelming. Practicing self-care, setting realistic goals, and seeking support from family, friends, peers or mental health professionals can be beneficial. Employers can contribute by providing mental health benefits, flexible work arrangements, and stress-reduction programs to support and provide comfort to young adults in the workplace.

3. Middle Adulthood (36-65)
During middle adulthood, many people can struggle with juggling family responsibilities, career demands, and financial pressures. The main stressors include raising children, caring for ageing parents, and finding a work-life balance. It’s important to remind your employees that they should focus on prioritising self-care, seeking therapy, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In other words, a work-life balance! Employers should encourage this more than ever before and can go further by providing family support programmes or offering stress management workshops that may give them the tools to manage stress..

4. Older Adults (65+)
Some look forward to it but for others, accepting retirement can be difficult: the loss of identity, routine, and goals can impact one’s sense of self-worth, leave them feeling directionless, or even lead to depression. Other factors like health concerns, and loss of loved ones can also contribute to stress in older adults. They need to maintain social connections, engage in physical and mental activities, and seek professional help when needed. Employers may offer retirement planning assistance or transition workshops, providing practical help on adjusting to retirement, don’t be afraid to explore the available support.

Let’s not forget that at certain points in our lives we will be significantly impacted by stress, anxiety, grief, anger – any number of emotions or conditions that will impact our mental health. These may include traumatic events, chronic illnesses, or major life changes like divorce or relocation. In such cases, seeking therapy, support groups, or counselling services can help manage stress.

How can my organisation support mental health?

  1. Mental health programmes: Offer employee assistance programs (EAPs), access to therapists, and mental health workshops. It’s also important to encourage employees to take advantage of these resources.
  2. Flexible work arrangements: Provide flexibility in work schedules and remote work options, allowing employees to better balance their personal and professional lives.
  3. Destigmatise mental health: Promote a culture of openness and understanding. Encourage your employees to talk about their mental health without fear of judgment.
  4. Promote physical health: Physical and mental health go hand in hand. Encourage regular exercise and provide gym facilities or fitness discounts to your employees.
  5. Work-life balance: Encourage employees to use their holidays and avoid overloading them with excessive work. Promote the importance of disconnecting from work during personal time.
  6. Benefits packages: Enhance benefits packages to include mental health coverage, ensuring employees have access to therapy and psychiatric services.

Organisations and companies play a vital role in promoting mental health, and by implementing the right strategies, they can contribute to a happier, healthier workforce. Learn how you can create a supportive workplace culture with HAPI.


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