Policy for Psychological Wellbeing and the Avoidance and Management of Stress



  1. The good health of individual staff members is a primary requirement for their effective performance at work. Psychological wellbeing is as important to an individual as good physical health. Without healthy, effective and efficient staff the University will not function effectively.
  2. The University has a statutory duty of care to its staff and through a variety of published policies establishes a framework of procedures that ensure a safe and healthy working environment within which staff can operate.
  3. In any environment, both at home and at work, people are subjected to external pressures. Not all pressures on an individual are adverse. Some people enjoy and thrive with a lifestyle that is more pressured than that which will be tolerated by others in a similar situation. These contented individuals are working within their capacity to cope. However, exceeding that capacity to cope in any individual will lead them to become stressed.
  4. Stress is the adverse reaction displayed by a person to excessive pressures and demands placed upon them. Stress will reduce a person's ability to function effectively and if prolonged may damage their psychological wellbeing. pressures and demands placed upon them.

Stress and the capacity to cope

  1. Stress is a complex process. Different individuals react in different ways to similar situations and individuals react differently to the same situation at different times.
  2. This variation in an individual's capacity to cope makes measuring stress or setting limits to the pressures which induce stress unrealistic. However, there are well-defined factors, which are known to increase stress levels. However, there are well-defined factors, which are known to increase stress levels. Individuals and line managers should identify the occurrence of these factors in their area of responsibility and take reasonable steps to eliminate or minimise the adverse effects of these stress factors. Preventing stress is always more effective and efficient than curing the adverse consequences it may induce.
  3. There are recognised signs and symptoms that indicate a person may be working beyond their capacity to cope. Therefore, as well as reducing causes of stress, managers should be aware of the symptoms of stress in individuals and be on the lookout for any signs within their staff.
  4. Reasonable endeavours should be made to arrange the working environment to minimise the risk of taking an individual beyond their capacity to cope.

Actions for stress management


  1. Heads of Schools/Departments and Line Managers' within their area of responsibility, should be aware of:
    - The potential and/or actual causes of stress and their occurrence
    - The presenting signs and symptoms of stress and any members of their staff exhibiting such signs 
  2. Professional Development will provide appropriate training support for managers and staff to enable them to identify and reduce the causes of stress within their area of responsibility and work.
  3. The University will support psychological wellbeing through its policies, which have a bearing on recognised organisational and personal stress factors. These policies are published on the HR web pages under Guides and Support.
  4. The University operates successfully in a highly competitive environment, which is demanding and may induce pressures in its staff. However, in seeking to achieve objectives, managers need to be aware of the pressures which may be placed on their staff from business decisions they take and seek opportunities to reduce the impact of such pressures.


  1. Whilst recognising that there are many factors outside the control of the University which may predispose someone to suffer from stress, where possible Heads of School/Departments and Line Managers will arrange support and help for individuals who are experiencing difficulties related to stress.
  2. In all cases where an individual is identified as suffering from the consequences of stress, from whatever cause, the emphasis will be on providing support for that individual through professional services available through the University and where practicable, reasonable steps will be taken to reduce the sources of pressure within that individual's working environment.
  3. Where an individual returns to work following a period of sickness absence, the cause of which has been diagnosed by a medical practitioner as being due to work-related pressure (or stress), a specific risk assessment to assist in identifying and resolving any factors that could lead to the development of work-related stress should be carried out. The diagnosis will usually be confirmed on the medical certificate covering the period of sickness absence.

This policy will be reviewed at regular intervals not exceeding three years.

Agreed by Staff Policy Committee
25 November 1999
Updated February 2006

Last edited Dec 13, 2015