Can Micropigs Reduce Stress?


Stress is one of the leading causing of sickness absence within UK businesses, so as an organisation taking steps to reduce the stress of your workforce can help you access a range of benefits. Typically, businesses looking at improving employee well being embark on initiatives such as healthy eating and exercise to prevent stress. Occupational health specialists also recommend quick referral to counselling or other services to help employees already struggling with stress or other mental health issues.

However, some organisations in the UK are employing innovative and unique methods to help individuals reduce stress. We recently reported on a hospital who are using laughter yoga to relax staff, but this week Nottingham Trent University, in preparation for the tough exam season, has announced its interesting pet therapy plans. The university has set up a micro pig room to help students relieve stress by cuddling up to these tiny piggies.

The university isn’t alone in its stress-busting efforts. Exeter University opened a pig room earlier in the month, while other universities like Leicester and Bristol have chosen puppies for their pet therapy. In addition to providing a welcome break from revision to alleviate exam anxiety, the rooms will raise money for charities.

Does it work?

Interaction with a gentle, friendly animal is said to have a number of benefits for health including:

  • lowering blood pressure
  • releasing endorphins which calm you
  • improving cardiovascular health
  • lowering physical pain
  • and potentially even reducing the need for medication

So will we see more organisations and businesses embark on pet therapy to reduce stress in the office? Could the quick stroke of a pig calm your customer service reps when they’re dealing with angry customers, or help execs chill out before a tough presentation? Watch this space.

Mental Health: What Are Your Responsibilities As An Employer?

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Common mental health issues such as stress can have consequences as diverse as increased absenteeism to feelings of negativity breeding throughout the workplace. This is particularly if colleagues are having to pick up slack from an absent employee.

So what are your responsibilities as an employer when it comes to mental health?

Under the Health and Safety at work Act 1974, your business is required to ensure employees’ health, safety, and welfare in the workplace – as far as is reasonably practical. The HSE expects businesses and organisations to ensure suitable risk assessments take place in order to gauge the stress levels of staff members. Plus, the 1999 Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations mean employees are required to assess health and safety risks in the workplace for third parties.

The role of occupational health

In line with the HSE, an occupational health professional like OHBM will use audit tools allow your business to identify stress issues within your workplace. OHBM’s audit tools are suitable for use for both individuals and groups of employees.

If there is a risk, the health of the employee should be monitored regularly. With OHBM, members of the workforce can be referred at short notice to our experienced psychologists. Here, they can access stress management, assessment and treatment programmes.

To find out more about your obligations as an organisation when it comes to mental health and stress in the workplace, speak to the team at OHBM. We are more than happy to help.