A concerning number of distressed Australians are engaging in risky behaviours to manage stress, a new survey found.
Released today to launch Psychology Week (8-14 November) the Stress and wellbeing in Australia survey 2015, conducted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) for the fifth year in a row, found people reporting severe levels of distress are more likely to engage in potentially risky behaviours such as drinking alcohol (61%), gambling (41%), smoking (40%) and recreational drug use (31%) to manage stress.
The annual survey provides a snapshot of the overall wellbeing of Australians, revealing the major causes of stress and activities to manage stress. A concerning finding from this year’s survey was many of the most vulnerable Australians, those reporting the highest levels of distress, and anxiety and depression symptoms were turning to alcohol, gambling, smoking and drugs to manage their stress.
Also of concern was the number of people naming these as effective stress management strategies.
Professor Lyn Littlefield, Executive Director of the APS, said the survey findings are concerning.
“It is worrying that people are turning to potentially harmful and addictive behaviours to manage stress. Drinking alcohol, smoking and gambling can take a toll on personal finances, as well as physical and mental health. The APS recommends avoiding these behaviours if you are already feeling overwhelmed or stressed,” Prof Littlefield said.
This year’s survey found anxiety symptoms to be the highest they have been in the five years of the survey. This is concerning as people with higher levels of distress, anxiety and depression symptoms are more likely than other Australians to engage in these behaviours to help manage stress.
“It appears that there is a vicious cycle involving people finding personal finances and health the main reasons for stress, yet certain stress-relief methods are potentially contributing to people’s problems in the long-term,” Professor Littlefield said.
“We need to look at the impact of stress on society as a whole, and what we can do to reduce the potential for stress related harm.”
The APS recommends Australians seek help from a psychologist if they are feeling overwhelmed
A free referral service is available for the general public, GPs and other health professionals who are seeking the advice and assistance of a psychologist at www.findapsychologist.org.au.
To access detailed advice about managing stress, you may view the APS tip-sheet here. More information can be found at www.psychologyweek.com.
Media contact: Mindy Gold, Buchan Consulting, 0431 143 897 // 02 9237 2808
Additional survey findings
FOMO survey: The survey this year included questions on social media experience as well as a separate FOMO survey of 13 to 17-year-olds
Signs of stress include:
Tips for managing stress:
For more stress information and tips
Note to editors: A copy of the survey report is available upon request.
Professor Lyn Littlefield and a number of other psychologists are available for interview throughout Psychology Week.
About the APS
The APS is the largest professional organisation for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 22,000 members. The APS is committed making a difference to people’s lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing. During Psychology Week, APS psychologists around Australia host a large number of events and activities in their local communities to highlight psychology – the science of human behaviour – and how it can help people lead happier, healthier lives. To find an event go to psychologyweek.com. You can follow the latest updates from APS via Twitter @APS_Media, and join the conversation about Psychology Week via #psychweek and on Facebook www.facebook.com/AustralianPsychologicalSociety