Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd.

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Press Release – 1st February 2007

Today is ‘Stress Down Day’: Managing stress and conflict in libraries

Stress Down Day is the run by the Samaritans and aims to raise awareness of stress in the workplace and to encourage people to look after their mental health.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), work related stress accounts for over a third of all new incidences of ill health. Each case of stress related illness leads to an average of 30.9 working days lost, and a total of 12.8 million working days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2004/5.

“Those figures are particularly grim, but they fail to tell the suffering of the individuals involved. What they also don’t tell is the cost to employers from sickness absence. That’s all expense that can be avoided.”

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) members’ organisations need to show that those working in the many and varied library and information sector – be it higher education, corporate, government or public are cared for and that staff well-being is their paramount concern.

Recognising the major problems of aggression, bullying, conflict and violence that CILIP members are suffering daily in their work, Facet – the Publishing arm of CILIP is shortly to publish the book Managing Stress and Conflict in Libraries by Sheila Pantry OBE

The President of Europe’s largest body for health and safety professionals, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), has told employers they need to manage pressure placed on their staff or face having more of their employees off on sick leave.

Lisa Fowlie, the President of IOSH, speaking on ‘Stress Down Day’, said that too many employers still did not understand the benefits they can gain from preventing workplace stress, and the price that their staff pay if they fail to do so.

“Challenge is a key ingredient for any healthy workplace because meeting a challenge helps people feel relaxed and satisfied. Challenge is a good thing, but it does bring with it pressure. When pressure becomes excessive or harmful, it can lead to stress, which is a person’s reaction to their circumstances.”

Lisa added that employers can reduce pressure at work relatively easily: “Minor adjustments are often enough. Ensuring staff have a sympathetic ear, allowing more flexible working hours and adopting family friendly policies helps everyone, especially parents and those with care responsibilities.”

Benefits for organisations and libraries which tackle stress can include:


Samaritans is the ‘one-stop shop’ for emotional support for almost 5 million people who contact the charity every year. Shocking statistics show that one person takes their lives every ninety minutes meaning that suicide kills more people than transport accidents. There are four suicides a day amongst men aged between 15 and 34 years of age. Research has also shown that women are twice as likely to suffer from depression and more likely than men to self harm yet less than half of Samaritans calls come from women.