In a 2007 group interview, organizational psychologist Cary Cooper, a leading authority on workplace stress, opined that stress is the “black plague” of our times. He added:
I see stress as the main source of disease or the trigger for disease in the 21st century developed world.
We know stress is a major risk factor for a range of illness from heart disease to immune failures and more and more research is being done on cancer now.
Now that jobs are intrinsically more insecure for everybody – from shop floor to top floor, guess what – the illnesses – stress related illnesses are going up the hierarchy. So now nobody’s safe.
Cooper gave the interview in 2007, before the economic meltdown. Even then, he noted that stress is bad for public health. It’s running up and down the organizational chart. And it is a by-product of the developed world that many of us have chosen to embrace.
In searching for silver linings in the current economic mess we’re in, perhaps a reassessment of how we live and work — with an eye toward psychologically healthier practices — will lead us to something better.
In centuries past, a plague would simply run its course, leaving devastation in its wake. Will we be more pro-active and harness all that we know about people and organizations to stop the plague of stress in its tracks?
Hat tip to Dianne Wilkinson for the interview link.