Who knew taxi drivers were so stressed?

It came as no surprise to me that military personnel topped the list of the most stressful jobs in 2017 [1]. That firefighters were second didn’t shock me either but airline pilots at three concerned me given my fear of flying. I continued to look down the list produced by CareerCast and while some raised an eyebrow, others a knowing nod, taxi driver at number nine made me question things.

Then I read the explanation ‘A taxi driver doesn’t know who their next client will be, it could be a psychopath’. As a management consultant who never knows who their next client will be, I had never truly connected with taxi drivers until now!

In all seriousness, this list intrigued me and so I looked in to things further; 75% of Australians surveyed in 2016 admitted that stresses in their lives adversely affected their physical health and 64% their mental health [2]. These stresses are experienced through depression or anxiety which is brought about by factors in their jobs such as travel, career growth and deadlines. These aren’t the only factors and they bring about a growing amount of mental health issues across the population.

Reading these high percentages caused me to reflect; I moved to Australia just over a year ago, in part this decision was about a change of lifestyle and a change of culture within my working life. My experience in the UK had become stressful and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to make a change. As I look back I know now that my stress in the UK, particularly over the last 18 months there put me with the 75% having their physical health affected. I recognise that it is not so easy or possible for everyone to make such a radical change and that people live with stress on a daily basis.
But before I signed off with a ‘well done Mark’ for removing my stress, I questioned as to whether I was truly less stressed. I am aware that I am physically healthier but does that mean I have resolved my mental health challenges? I went back to the list and thought, am I in the military? No. Do I every day run towards danger as others run away, as firefighters do? No. I do travel however, and given my fear of flying I don’t underestimate the stress that causes me. I am driven by career growth which never quite goes at the speed one hopes, and I am rubbish at deadlines. Many of these things I can not control and it is this in part that causes me stress. I think the difference for me between 2017 and now, into 2018 is that I have different mechanisms to deal with these stresses – part of that is being conscious that they exist.

Through these times of refection I’ve allowed myself, I’ve learned that many of the people I interact with through my job and personal life may be suffering a type of stress, it may not be acute and may not be something to cause me stress, but it does stress them. This includes my son. When we first came to Australia he struggled with adapting to his new school and with making new friends and now I see the stress this caused him. It made me think about how I deal with other peoples’ stress, do I help or do I add to it? I’m not sure in hindsight I was as helpful to Zach as I could have been as he dealt with the stresses in his life and I am not sure I always help my colleagues and friends. I have learned there is more I can do.

I was asked as part of Deloitte’s sponsorship of the Big Splash in Perth to write an article about mental health. Having the opportunity to support the Big Splash, and writing this blog has provided me with time to reflect. Mental health is an important issue in our society and stress just one part of that. Putting together this blog I feel more aware of the issues and the impact I can have in my life and the lives of others.

1. http://www.careercast.com/jobs-rated/most-stressful-jobs-2017

2. https://wayahead.org.au/stress-and-australians/

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