Stressed agency staff seek drug counselling

Fears of recession are leading to soaring levels of stress among

staffers at Britain's agencies - and the pressures are manifesting

themselves in everything from troublesome skin conditions to heavy

drinking and drug-taking, according to new research.

The survey, of 170 agency and TV production company executives, also

found that eight out ten of those questioned experienced bullying by

senior managers.

Now agencies are being warned that unless they spot the early warning

signs of stress among staff and deal with them, they will be forced to

face the economic downturn with massively demotivated workforces.

The research was carried out by Deirdre Edwards, a psychotherapist and

stress counsellor for 15 years, and follows what she said had been a big

increase in the numbers of media company staffers seeking her


Her findings come as the IPA Council is about to consider a proposal for

a code of practice on how agencies should address the work-life balance

issue, which may include dealing with stress.

IPA executives fear the industry will fail to recruit and retain the

brightest talent unless the working environment is made more


Bruce Haines, the IPA president, said: "As an industry, we have a poor

reputation in this area and I'm committed to doing something about


Edwards' research suggests that increasing stress among agency people is

causing more eczema and asthma among sufferers. More are turning to

cigarettes, drink and drugs. She claims recession causes agency staff to

take on more work because they fear redundancy.

She accused many senior agency managers, themselves under pressure from

their bosses, of exacerbating the problem by belittling staff in

meetings in front of their colleagues. "In trying to motivate people,

they humiliate them," Edwards added. "This is bringing about a spiral of


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