Global health services company Cigna Insurance Middle East today launched its Stress Care initiative in the UAE, dedicated to raising awareness about the long-term impact of stress - a known contributor to chronic diseases - and reducing its prevalence among residents.
In line with the UAE’s National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031, the campaign seeks to empower people to take control of their overall health and wellness.
For the first time ever, the Stress Care platform helps people visualise the impact of stress on their body and mind using Cigna’s Stress Portraits, thereby encouraging them to take proactive steps to improve their wellness through creating a personal Stress Care P.L.A.N. – a simple four-step actionable plan to manage stress.
In the UAE, close to 22 percent of residents face unmanageable levels of stress, according to the Cigna 360⁰ Well-Being Survey 2019. Stress has been proven to significantly contribute to High Blood Pressure and other chronic diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that chronic diseases will account for almost three-quarters of all deaths by 2020. In the UAE, the cost for selected stress-related illness on the health system is estimated at USD 698 million per annum, according to a study conducted by Asia Care Group*.
“We all know that chronic stress has a major impact on people’s ability to perform in their jobs and engage with society,” said Jerome Droesch, CEO of Cigna MENA. “What is not so well known is that stress often manifests itself through physical symptoms, such as insomnia, hypertension, and diabetes. This means that in many instances, people are trying to find cures to the symptoms without recognizing the root cause.”
While the UAE has seen improvement in overall well-being, Cigna’s annual 360⁰ Well-Being Survey highlights that stress among UAE employees is high primarily due to their concerns about finances, job security, and overwork. Many respondents admit to working longer hours, with 91 percent reporting stress at work and 96 percent perceiving a negative impact of colleagues’ stress on the workplace environment.
In addition, only 43 percent of those surveyed confirm having a formal wellness program at the workplace, with more than half stating that these programs focus solely on physical wellness and fail to give mental well-being the attention it deserves. A staggering 77 percent report working in an ‘always on’ culture where they feel they cannot switch off from work even during the evenings or on weekends, which significantly impacts their stress levels.
“Stress is a major contributor to absenteeism and lack of productivity in the workplace, and it is costing businesses worldwide more than US$1.87 billion annually,” added Jerome. “While a little stress is normal in our busy lives today, the findings of our survey underscore that chronic stress is a prevailing hazard to health and wellness. Employees need to be alerted to the triggers of stress and its related mental and physical symptoms. These tend not to be openly discussed or treated seriously in organizations due to various factors, such as cultural norms or lack of awareness about the hidden cost. We see stress not as something to suffer in silence, but something everyone can take control of.”
(Source: Arabianbusiness.com YouTube channel)