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Poll coincidences with International Stress Management Association's National Stress Awareness DayReuters

Millions of UK staff are experiencing high levels of stress at work, according to a poll from YouGov for mental health charity Mind.

The survey, which questioned 1,250 people in October, found that more than half (56%) of respondents said they found work very or fairly stressful, more so than debt or financial problems (38%), health (29%) or relationships (20%).

The figures mean, once you take the UK's working age population into account, that up to 21 million people could find work very or fairly stressful.

The research also revealed that workplace stress is impacting on other areas of people's lives.

For example, one in five (20%) respondents said it had put a strain on their marriage or relationship with significant other, while 11% had missed important events such as birthdays or weddings.

The poll also highlighted some common sources of stress at work.

Frequently cited factors deemed very or fairly stressful included excessive workload (52%), frustration with poor management (54%), not enough support from managers (47%), threat of redundancy (27%) and unrealistic targets (45%).

"We know employers are starting to take mental health at work more seriously, but clearly still have a long way to go in helping tackle the causes of stress and poor mental health at work," said Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind.

"People still don't feel comfortable talking about mental health at work or telling their employer if they've been off sick with stress. Yet many staff will be affected by these issues.

"That's why it's so important that organisations proactively manage staff wellbeing, and create an open culture where they employees are able to talk about wellbeing without fear of discrimination or being perceived as weak or incapable."

The study also found that, in times of stress, many people are resorting to unhealthy coping strategies.

Nearly one in five (18%) had smoked cigarettes, more than half (55%) had drunk alcohol after work and 12% had even drunk alcohol during the working day to cope with workplace stress.

The findings coincidence with International Stress Management Association's National Stress Awareness Day.