As an occupational psychologist specialising in workplace mental health, Susannah Robertson-Hart has advised many managers on supporting staff experiencing anxiety. There is one message she gives every time: that while anxiety can certainly affect someone’s performance at work, there is no one consistent way in which it does so.
“The manifestation of anxiety in the workplace is so individualised,” says Susannah, who is director of Healthy Work Psychology, her own consultancy firm. “It’s different for everyone.”
In many situations, anxiety is actually an entirely appropriate human reaction; one designed to protect against a future threat. It is normal (and expected) that someone starting a new job, for example, will feel unease that may cause them to perform below their best.
But for some people anxiety can be intense, disproportionate, lasting, and start to get in the way of their day-to-day functioning – including their ability to do their job well. In these instances, it is defined as a clinical disorder. Statistics suggest that at any one time, one in 10 people in the UK will be living with such a condition.
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