Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.

Millions of us around the UK are experiencing high levels of stress and it is damaging our health. Stress is one of the great public health challenges of our time, but it still isn’t being taken as seriously as physical health concerns.

Although stress is not a mental health problem in itself, it is closely linked to mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems. Individually we need to understand what is causing us personal stress (identifying your triggers) and learn what steps we can take to reduce it for ourselves and those around us.

The theme for Stress Awareness Month 2021 is ‘Regaining Connectivity, Certainty and Control’.

A recent study on stress with Huawei, gathering data from 2,000 British adults, found that 65 per cent of people in the UK have felt more stressed since the COVID-19 restrictions began in March 2020. The three key causes for concern are feelings of disconnection, uncertainty, and a worrying loss of control.

The most crucial thing you can do when you are stressed or anxious is to make sure you are continuing to look after yourself. Make time to relax when you need to and learn to say no to requests that are too much for you.

How can you combat stress?

  • Talk about stress with friends, family and colleagues
  • Identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts – the way we think about a situation affects the way we feel
  • Split large tasks up into smaller more achievable chunks
  • Share your coping mechanisms – if something has worked for you why not share it. It might benefit someone you care about and in the meantime it might help you take your focus off your own challenges
  • Be nice to those who are stressed and anxious – we are all undoubtedly going to experience stress and anxiety in our lifetime so treat others going through with compassion and empathy
  • Look after yourself – we all need to think more about self-care. Take time out of your day to relax or do something that you enjoy. Don’t forget to exercise and eat well, even when you feel too stressed

The Stress Management Society are this year hosting a 30 day challenge,
which encourages people to pick one action each for your Physical, Mental and Emotional Wellbeing to carry out every day. Find out more… 

If you need help or support, you can access the Togetherall service 24/7
 to share your thoughts and feelings with others like you, as well as access self-guided courses and resources. Togetherall is free for people in Cumbria aged 16 and over – you can register by simply using your postcode. 

If you would like to be put on our waiting list for Mindfulness and/or Wellbeing and Resilience courses,
please get in touch at: 


While hospital visiting remains suspended due to Covid-19 restrictions, North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust is working to help keep patients and their families connected.

New volunteers have recently been recruited to the ‘Keeping Patients Connected’ project and the Trust is encouraging more people to apply to become a volunteer. The project aims to facilitate patients having virtual visits with their families and friends using iPads.

Nicole Cottingham, volunteer coordinator for Keeping Patients Connected, said: “The project aims to help our patients and their families but also we hope it will help take the pressure off busy ward staff.

“We have two new volunteers who have started on Elm A ward at the Cumberland Infirmary, one volunteer waiting to start on Eden Unit in Penrith and two volunteers waiting to start on Ward 4 at the West Cumberland Hospital.”

More here...

Keeping active is a great way to boost our mental wellbeing. So this month Action for Happiness are encouraging everyone to get moving and get outdoors as much as possible.

Whatever your circumstances or physical limitations, you can find your own ways to be a bit more active. We don't need to run marathons - there are simple things we can all do to take care of our bodies, like unplugging from technology, reconnecting with nature and getting more sleep!

The Active April calendar contains daily actions to help you take care of your body. Please share the calendar with others!

Creating the ideal environment for colleagues to disclose their protected characteristics

Are you interested in creating an environment of openness and transparency? Would you like to share good learning and practice?

This event is open to anyone in the NHS and is sponsored by the NEY Equality and Inclusion, Workforce and OD teams and will be facilitated by NHS Horizons. It aims to create a safe space to discuss how we create an environment that allows people the freedom to speak up, allowing them to thrive in the workplace and have a positive impact on patients. Their aim is to hear lived experiences and to generate recommendations for actions to take forward.

The free virtual (MS Teams) event will be held on Thursday, 29 April 2021 between 9:30am–12 noon.

To register for your place, click here. Please share with interested colleagues.

Please note: The event booking link is not limited to those with emails only, and accounts can be created using alternative emails.

Over the past year, through the challenges of the pandemic, a number of teams at East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) have been using their quality improvement skills to focus on the topic of staff wellbeing and experience.

As we begin to cautiously emerge from restrictions and look to the future with hope, one of our biggest priorities has to be the wellbeing of staff. They have shared the stories below, which might provide you with some ideas to try out in your team:

  • Randomised Coffee Meeting to Tackle Isolation - The Quality Control and Performance team in Community Health Newham recently tested randomised coffee meetings to tackle the problem of isolation while people are working remotely. This involved the randomised selection of two people to meet virtually for a coffee/tea break and a chat once a week. Read more about what they learned and how they adapted this test. Read more...
  • A Cohesive Breakfast Club - The Mental health Law team have been testing a breakfast club before the working day starts on a Monday morning to check-in on each other after the weekend and for the week ahead. To find out what impact this test had on team cohesion and the working day, watch this video. Read more...
  • Improving the Experiences of New Starters - Tower Hamlets Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) have tested shadowing, having a buddy system, welcome emails, having a champion role and orientation to improve the experience of new starters in their team. Read more about their story and see the ‘new starter checklist’ they have created. Read more...
  • GREATIX - Showing Appreciation for Team Members - The ‘Joy’ Specialist Children and Young People Services (SCYPS) 2.0 project have been testing ‘Greatix’, a tool for show appreciation to team members. Learn about the challenges they faced collecting feedback and the impact on team members, of paying someone a compliment. Read more...
  • Understanding Strengths and Possibilities - Newham Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) tested how to improve their Appreciative Inquiry, a tool to help teams explore their strengths and possibilities, because doing this in a large group did not work well. Enjoy their story told in a puppet show. Read more...


At East London Foundation Trust the Enjoying Work programme, based on the IHI's Joy in Work Framework, helps teams that are looking for ways to increase their joy and satisfaction at work. Using QI to make progress towards this goal can give teams ideas to test and measure, whilst meeting other teams across the Trust looking to do something similar. Here are some of the ideas teams at ELFT have been testing:

The Working Well Handy Guide

This Working Well Handy Guide is designed to be used by teams and individuals to help them build staff satisfaction and wellbeing using a Quality Improvement (QI) approach. 

It has been built on East London NHS Foundation Trust’s (ELFT) learning from supporting over 40 teams through Enjoying Work projects over the last 4 years. ​

Access the Guide...

Putting People at the Heart of the Process

Starting a new job is rated as one of the most stressful life events irrespective of where you are in your career. The feeling of being overwhelmed in the first days of a job is common as new team members learn what is expected of them in their new role. 

Over the last two years, members of the Quality Improvement Department at ELFT have assembled an improvement project, specifically to improve the experiences of new starters joining the team. In this 5 minute read, explore the ideas that were tested and worked, and what the team is testing next.