Robin Williams Death and the Need to Address Work Related Stress

Robin Williams Death and the Need to Address Work Related Stress

Five days after actor and comedian Robin Williams took his own life many are still discussing about how a man known for his laughter and apparent happiness could have been so overcome by his condition of depression.

In the words of his wife Susan Schneider we must try and focus on the positive outcomes that this saddening situation will bring:

“It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so that may feel less afraid.”

Robin Williams’ suicide has shot the issues of Depression and other mental health conditions to the forefront of the media which is in turn raising awareness about such illnesses which many do not know a lot about.

Depression and other recognised disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Anxiety can all be triggered by stress.

Stress as a condition in itself can take many forms but in Britain stress caused at work is the biggest growing problem which is being largely overlooked by many employers.

A recent survey carried out by Professor John McLeod of Abertay University in Dundee has warned that one in four of those in professions such as teaching social work and the police are suffering from worryingly high levels of stress at work. In other occupations the figure is around 1 in 15 which is still higher than many would expect.

Professor McLeod’s study of 10000 workers in Britain found that those in the private sector in particular are suffering stress at work as a result of the requirement and pressure on them to deliver higher and higher productivity per person.

The culture in Europe is that employees are working longer and longer hours on average than the rest of the World. Professor McLeod commented that this culture must change otherwise Britain will “break down”.

Professor McLeod said of stress at work: “This is not just a minor worry any more. It can be a serious crisis in people’s lives.”

Undiagnosed conditions now cause more absences from work than traditional complaints such as backache hangovers and stomach problems.

Professor McLeod’s report for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy claims that the Counselling as a treatment to stress at work can reduce the number of incidences of work related stress by 50%.

From a business point of view the survey illustrates that by providing Counselling to employees suffering from stress at work will not only boost employees’ performance and morale but will also cut the number of sick days taken and therefore cut the wasted costs paid out by the employer.

Professor McLeod warned that stress at work will not go away unless “Britain learns how to offer help to staff”.

From a legal point of view employers are under a legal requirement to address and deal with these issues adequately and in a timely manner.

Michael Lewin Solicitors are specialists in claims for work related stress.

If you believe that you would benefit from legal advice on this matter or believe you may have a claim against your employer please call us on 0844 499 9302 or email

article written by Jessica Thompson – Solicitor and assistant head of stress at work department

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