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What is 'WRS'?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Luke66, Feb 27, 2016.

  1. Luke66

    Luke66 New commenter

    I am trying to understand work related stress after reading the pinned thread and a few others.
    Please can someone correct my naive beliefs/questions below:

    (1) Teachers have a stressful job and are expected to cope with it but WRS is different to this?
    (2) If a teacher can't cope with school expectations for a sustained period of time then they have WRS?
    (3) Is WRS an illness or is it a condition and are people predisposed to?
    (4) WRS has only existed in recent years as a condition that people legitimately have time off for without it going against any future application?
    (5) People who have suffered with axiety and depression often also suffer from WRS?
    (6) It's hard to prove someone hasn't got it?

    I am trying to understand what a friend is going through but am not very clued up!
  2. slingshotsally

    slingshotsally Star commenter

    Do you teach?
  3. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Anonymity and notsonorthernlass like this.
  4. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Hello @Luke66 . Welcome to TES.

    Since I created the pinned post on WRS, I'll do my best to answer your questions:

    1) Teaching is recognised as being an inherently-stressful job. However, all employers have both statutory and common-law duties for the health and well-being of their employees. If the stress of the job is excessive and causes an illness or injury then, once the employer is informed about this, they become liable if they do not take steps to deal with it, if the employee then suffers further illness of injury.
    2) Not necessarily. A teacher would have gone to his / her doctor and been diagnosed with one of the many illnesses or psychiatric injuries that can be caused by excessive stress and would be displaying symptoms of excessive stress. 'Stress' is not an illness in itself, but can cause illness to develop.
    3) Work-related stress is a cause of illness. It is not an illness in itself. Everyone experiences work-related stress: it is only a problem when it affects a person's health and well-being. Some people are more resistant to stress-related illness than others, just as some people's immune systems mean they catch more or fewer colds than average.
    4) People don't have time off for WRS. They will have time off for having been diagnosed with an illness attributed to WRS. People have always had time off work for being ill; medics now understand far better the relationship between excessive stress and its ability to cause illness. As claims in negligence for personal injury have developed and people have become more aware of their employment rights in respect of their employers' duty for their health, people are protesting more.
    5) People who suffer from anxiety and depression would not necessarily be affected by WRS. I am not a medic and aware of any evidence of whether they would be more likely to be susceptible. Anxiety and depression are certainly two medical conditions which may be diagnosed as having arisen as a consequence of WRS.
    6) It's for the medical profession to diagnose whether someone's illness has been caused by WRS. It can be hard to win a PI claim for an injury attributed to WRS, because of the legal tests that have to be met.
  5. Luke66

    Luke66 New commenter

    Thank you! That is a very comprehensive answer and helpful.
    On point (4) What illness could you have attributed to WRS?
  6. Luke66

    Luke66 New commenter

    Yes. I have done for many years in a number of different school settings.
    Do you feel that teachers should understand and those that don't teach won't understand?
  7. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Hullo @Luke66 . I hope that the very helpful and full answers that you have been getting are managing to clarify things for you.

    Have you also read this:

    Work-related stress: what the law says

    Whatever your GP decides. These decisions are made by medical practitioners, we wouldn't presume to answer this question.

    What an extraordinary question! Why should it matter what we feel?


    And anyway, WRS, as is clear from the quote by @FrankWolley above, is not limited to any one profession.

    May I suggest that you consult Google for further information? A quick search on "supporting those with work related stress" will bring up a large number of website which will help you to understand what your friend is going through, and support him or her.

    Best wishes

    monicabilongame likes this.
  8. slingshotsally

    slingshotsally Star commenter

    Hi Luke66,
    I do apologise, my question was too abrupt. So I can see why you might be offended.

    However, I can see your questions have been answered wish your friend a speedy recovery.

    Luke66 likes this.
  9. Luke66

    Luke66 New commenter

    It was in response to the first response I received and the post below yours should shed some light. :)

    Thanks for the rest of your post. I am just struggling a little with the concept. :)
  10. Luke66

    Luke66 New commenter

    Thank you :)
  11. sopsychedout

    sopsychedout New commenter

    Perhaps a psychological answer will help :)

    Psychologists define stress as when the cognitive demands of a situation outweigh our perceived ability to cope with them. I.e. it's when we think that we can't cope with a situation.

    Something that causes stress is called a stressor. E.g. The work place.

    By the way, a certain amount of stress is good for us and is called eustress, but too much or too little causes us physical and/or psychological problems.

    Stress is when the body reacts to when we think we can't cope. As you're not one of my psychology students, I'll spare you the detailed biological process but will just say that our body triggers something called the fight-flight response (produces and uses energy to either helps us deal with the situation or run away). This is perfectly natural, but when this process is happening and the energy has nowhere to go, that's stress.

    A useful analogy comes from a man called Dr Tim Cantopher who says that it's like putting a 13 amp fuse into a plug designed for a 10 amp one. It's too much, so it will eventually go bang! That's work place stress.

    So what causes this to happen? Workplace stress can be divided into physical and psychological factors.

    Physical ones are about the conditions of the job. E.g. long hours, heavy workloads, tight deadlines that are imposed/changed at the last minute.

    Psychological ones are about relationships in the job. E.g. Bullying bosses/colleagues or even spending a lot of time dealing with student issues without support (int he case of teaching).

    So, what are the effects?

    Physically-a weakened immune system, so the person may develop more frequent colds or long-term illnesses/complaints linked to this, such as eczema. In extreme cases, it has been linked to chronic heart disease, strokes and even cancer (I stress that I'm not saying that it causes any of these things but research has shown a link between them). Partly, because of the hormones flying around during the fight-flight response and partly because of things that the person does to 'manage' the stress or deal with the demands of the job, such as drinking, smoking and eating a poor diet (again, I'm not saying that these things cause these problems either but they do make them more likely).

    Psychologically-Anxiety and depression are common results. Again, I stress that these are not necessarily the full disorder as once the person is away from the workplace which is triggering the stress, he or she recovers. That said, it can lead to the development of the full disorders if the person doesn't get support.

    So, in a nutshell that's WRS or work related stress. Any physical or psychological condition which is triggered/started by a stressful working environment.

    How do you know? Again, it varies from person to person. Some of my colleagues were frequently off with painful illness or long-term conditions,such as asthma, bad colds/infections, severe eczema etc. My first symptom was tiredness (I don't mean the tiredness you get from missing a night's sleep but mental weariness. I just wanted to 'flop' all the time). After that, I was always either angry or on the verge of tears; when I did cry, I couldn't stop (and I've been described as a level headed person) and things got worse and worse until I was shaking constantly on the way to work, had a permanent breathless feeling/tight chest (I later realised that these were panic attacks), lost my appetite because I struggled to swallow food, so I also lost weight, my brain went into a 'fog' (I couldn't have told you what 2+2 was when I finally signed off sick by my GP) and was frightened all the time (even standing in a queue got me shaking), I also lost a range of emotions (although I didn't realise this until I got treatment). All I felt was either sad or worried. In the end, I felt like the only logical way out of my misery was to end it all. Thankfully, I then realised that I had a choice and decided to see my GP for help. I'm very happy and in a new job now where my environment is still stressful but I get support. In case you're confused, my stress started because I was working in an FE College with a business minded college (bums on seats attitude to recruitment of students), with responsibility for the most popular A-level subject and 4 AS Personal Tutor groups, full teaching time table and a bullying colleague in my first year, with bullying and unsupportive bosses in my second.

    How can you support your friend? Be there for your friend! Encourage him or her to have a good work-life balance! Listen without judging if he/she wants to talk and urge your friend to seek professional help if he/she experiences any extreme symptoms, such as some of mine. E.g. from teacher support line and/or his/her GP and someone with some legal knowledge if he/she is being bullied out of the job by his/her boss/colleague (i.e. is being set up as incompetent through observations and 'friendly chats' with bullying/ignorant bosses). A useful thing that I remembered was some wise words from a colleague: 'You're not mad! You're having a rational response to an irrational situation'.

    Hope this post helps! If not, a good book recommended by various tes users is called Depressive illness: The curse of the strong by Dr Tim Cantopher.

    By the way, we're all predisposed to WRS if in a stressful (or to be more, precise) toxic/bullying working environment like some of the places that I've worked in.

    Hope your friend is ok!

    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016
  12. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    In a nut shell it can be boiled down to good stress and bad stress. Good stress is the sort of every day short lived keep you on your toes stuff.....i.e. things are generally good but you've got an academic/professional deadline and there's a bit of pressure to get the thing done so you get focused and do the thing.

    Then there's the bad sort, this has built up over a longer period of time and it's exceeded the persons normal capacity (imagine a bucket full of water) and due to the persons circumstances more pressure is building (i.e. some one left the hose on and it's been put in the bucket). This is the sort of stuff that can build up and cause WRS.

    Both of those sorts of stress are caused due to the body releasing a mix of things, cortisone and adrenalin are key components, and effectively producing the fight or flight response. We can handle this in the short term but it's the long term exposure that messes people up.
  13. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    Very true. In many jobs there are daily pressures.

    The difference in teaching is whilst there are the daily pressure of the planning, marking and actual teaching, which have always existed; there are additional pressure of scrutiny, observations, unrealistic targets and threats of capability.
  14. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    I'm not treating teaching as a piddling contest with other careers/professions/jobs. It does not matter what the thing is that has caused the stress, if it is bad stress that is above and beyond the normal sort and is not going away it's bad stress. The cause of it is almost irrelevant if you are just looking at what it is.

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