Samaritans claim 80% have been bullied at work

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New research from emotional support charity Samaritans has revealed that one in four people it is a weekly or even daily stress caused by workplace bullying.

More than 80% of workers have been bullied during their careers and a third of people are so stressed they have dreamed of quitting for a life abroad.

Over half say their jobs are getting more stressful and that work is overtaking their home lives.

These are the key findings of Samaritans’ survey for Stress Down Day, taking place on Friday February 1st, a national campaign to encourage people to take better care of their health at work and reduce currently damaging stress levels.

Samaritans spokesman Joe Ferns claimed that thirteen million working days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2005 at a cost of £3.7 billion.

“Positive workplaces are a big factor in keeping everyone emotionally healthy,” he said.

“There is not enough openness and that is what Stress Down Day is all about; encouraging employers and employees to speak out and discuss problems before they escalate.”

Occupation has a major influence on stress, with over 40% of IT workers, retailers, caterers and engineers feeling unsupported at work and over half unable to deal with stress, compared with people in health, education, banking and finance over half of whom claim they receive adequate support at work.

Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University, an internationally recognised expert in the field of workplace stress, said:

“These results really disturb me. Shouldn’t we be managing people by reward and praise rather than by fault finding and bullying?

“We know that dealing with difficult people issues can be lonely and frustrating. The message from Samaritans is that you are not alone.

“Employees need more support from work colleagues and line managers and everyone needs coping skills to help them deal with everyday pressures.”

Samaritans was founded in 1953 and offers 24-hour confidential emotional support to anyone in emotional distress.

The service is offered by 16,800 trained volunteers and is entirely dependent on voluntary support.

Samaritans surveyed 2,100 adults in the UK and 500 adults in the Republic of Ireland, through nfpSynergy between the 12th and 30th November 2007.

Samaritans is encouraging people to wear their slippers to work on Stress Down Day.

Samaritans is experienced in workplace issues and provides a 24 hour confidential support service by phone and email. The charity also runs WorkLife, a training course to tackle stress in the workplace and provide practical skills for managers and team members. Log on to for more information. A CD-ROM of the course is also available.