Addressing anxiety in the workplace for MHAW

Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual week-long event that aims to improve public understanding of mental health and wellbeing.

Focussing on this year’s theme of ‘anxiety’, we have been discussing the importance of managing anxiety and what we can do to minimise the mental load of working under pressure as engineers:

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems people face in their day-to-day lives. It is often described as a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, and can be mild or severe. While feeling anxious can be perfectly normal, for example when sitting a test or attending a job interview, there are plenty of occasions where these feelings are more constant and can affect your daily life.


Managing anxiety

Last year, the Health and Safety Executive shared that an estimated 822,000 workers in Britain are affected by work-related stress, depression or anxiety every year.

The construction industry is no stranger to work-related stress; working to tight deadlines and feeling the pressure to always perform at our best. When the thought of underperforming could result in a major catastrophe on site, it’s understandable that engineers are at a higher risk of developing problems with their mental health.

In addition to talking therapies, exercise is often credited as a key combater for stress and anxiety. Whether reaching a new PB at the gym or opting for a calming yoga session, exercise is a great way to get the endorphins flowing.

But, when the average person is expected to work 260 days across 2023 (equivalent to 9,464 hours per year), how do we stay on top of our targets when feeling overwhelmed?

Not suffering in silence

Austin Young, a Structural Design Engineer for Mosaic CSE, explains: “As an engineer, there’s a lot of responsibility resting on your shoulders to design a structure that’s safe. Human error is always a cause for concern, and I find it helpful to be open and honest about what I can and can’t do. Talking to others so they can assist in finding a solution helps with any anxiety I might have. It’s also important for me to maintain a good work-life balance.”

Angie Bristow, Mosaic’s Studio Director, continues: “In my role, my anxieties are about ensuring client expectations and project deadlines are met. I also worry about whether I am giving enough time and guidance to my team, helping them develop and get the most out of their career. Over time, I have learnt to manage these worries by asking for help and not ‘suffering in silence’. Mosaic’s ‘no door’ policy encourages everyone to ask questions without judgement.”

When considering what more we can do to combat anxiety at work, Angie commented: “I find it helpful to be organised and methodical with ‘to do’ lists that break down what needs to be done into manageable tasks. This enables ‘easy wins’ that allow me to see progress towards the end goal. Taking breaks when needed is also a must. I find that by focusing on something else, the solution to a problem will quite often come to mind.”

You are not alone

As with anything related to mental health or wellbeing, it’s important to understand that you are not alone. With the rise in awareness, there has been an increase in companies appointing mental health first aiders or offering confidential support. If you or anyone you know is struggling with their mental health, please reach out to your mental health support team.

You can learn more about how to manage anxiety on the Mental Health Foundation’s website, here.