General Health & Wellbeing

Please find below a selection of useful links about a range of topics that you will find helpful in making positive changes or maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

For topics not covered below, please visit the NHS Choices website to find the information you need.

Alcohol

Alcohol and drug misuse is a major issue affecting employers and employees in the UK. Drinking in excess of the levels advised by the Department of Health is described as hazardous drinking and could lead to alcohol related problems.  If someone is drinking more than 35 units per week they are likely to develop serious physical and/or mental health problems, and have a higher risk of becoming alcohol dependent.  Misuse adversely impacts on an employee’s social life and relationships. In the workplace this can result in increased time off work/absenteeism and attendance issues; performance and productivity problems (forgetfulness, missed deadlines etc.); and an increase in accidents as judgement, concentration and co-ordination can be impaired.

The long term chronic health effects of excessive use can cause conditions such as alcoholic liver cirrhosis, cancer, pancreatitis, strokes, gastritis, sexual dysfunction, neurological disorders and mental health problems. Alcohol is also a factor in 20-30% of accidents and 65% of suicide attempts.

There can be underlying reasons for alcohol/drug misuse such as stress, relationship difficulties, depression or bereavement. If you are concerned that you may have an alcohol problem which is affecting you at work please discuss this matter confidentially with an Occupational Health Advisor who will advise you on accessing appropriate support.

What to do if you have concerns

If you are concerned that an employee has a problem with alcohol the following resources are recommended to help address this:

  1. University’s Policy on Misuse of Alcohol and Drugs in the Workplace
  2. Health and Safety Executive guide for Employers on Alcohol at Work ‘what can I do?’
  3. Employees may be referred  to the Occupational Health Service with their consent SEE FIT FOR WORK & REFERRAL TO OHS PAGE for more details
  4. NHS Change4Life – Cutting down on Alcohol
  5. Drinkaware

Counselling

See our Mental Wellbeing page for information on counselling services

Depression

See our Mental Wellbeing page for information on depression

Diet

For information on adopting a healthy balanced diet, we recommend the following resource: http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/goodfood/Pages/Goodfoodhome.aspx

Disability

See our Fit for Work & Referral to OHS page for information on disability in the workplace.

For information on the range of support offered by the University, please visit the Disability website.

Ergonomics

See our Musculoskeletal Health & Ergonomics page for information on ergonomics

Exercise

For information on building exercise as part of your daily routine, we recommend the following resource: http://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/Fitness/Pages/Fitnesshome.aspx

Flu

For information on influenza and the influenza vaccine, please visit the following webpage: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/coldsandflu/Pages/Coldsandfluhome.aspx

Health Services for Overseas Visitors

Healthcare Access

The NHS is the UK's state health service which provides treatment for UK residents. Some services are free, other have to be paid for. The regulations that govern who can and can't receive treatment are complex and may change. 

For information for foreign nationals on how to access NHS healthcare in the UK and what treatments you are entitled to, please visit http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/uk-visitors/Pages/access-services-in-England.aspx

Medical Insurance

It is essential that you take out medical insurance for the duration of your visit prior to arrival in the UK.

If you are either:

  • A non EU national and are going to stay in the UK for less than 6 months and your home country does not have a reciprocal agreement with the UK regarding medical care
  • A non EU national registered as a student at a British University on a course of short duration (less than six months)
  • A non EU national and are not a student and are going to stay in the UK for more than six months but less than a year

If you are a student registered at a UK University and are in the UK for more than six months it is not essential to take out medical insurance for the period you are in the UK (although you should have medical insurance in place to cover your trip to and from the UK) but you should consider the need for medical insurance in the event that you need to be repatriated on medical grounds to your home country.

Outdoor Work

Repeated exposure to Ultraviolet radiation in sunlight may cause changes in the skin and eventually skin cancer. Working outdoors in the middle of the day, increases the risk of such problems.

Employers must undertake a risk assessment of such work and reduce the risk to their workers from UV radiation as far as is reasonably practicable. Sensible controls that should be considered include:

  • Informing your outdoor workers of the risks associated with outdoor work. There are useful resources to do this at:

           Sunsmart (CRUK)

           Employee information sheet

  • Alteration of duties to avoid work outdoors between 11:00 and 15:00 in the summer months.
  • The employer should encourage use of peaked hats, long-sleeved shirts and high factor (5-star UVA) sun cream for any employee undertaking such work.
  • Instruct them to report any changes in their skin to their general practitioner promptly

Sleep

Sleep is required to rest and repair both the body and mind. Individual sleep needs vary, eight hours of sleep per night appears to be optimal for most adults, although some may need more or considerably less. 

It's easy to worry when you can't sleep.  Short-term, transient, insomnia lasting a few nights to 2-3 weeks affects 20-30% of the population each year. The risks of insomnia include the effect of being tired while awake and the effect on health of lack of sleep. Daytime sleepiness can cause accidents due to lack of concentration or falling asleep. Irritability as a result of tiredness can lead to problems with relationships at home and at work.

The symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Difficulty getting to sleep (taking longer than 45 minutes to get to sleep)
  • Waking frequently during the night and difficulty getting back to sleep
  • Early morning waking
  • Waking feeling tired and unrefreshed

There are many causes of insomnia and it is not always immediately obvious what the reason for your insomnia is. Investigation of your health, environment and lifestyle should reveal the source of the problem and what you can do to resolve it. The best course of action is to talk to your GP to try to find the root cause.

For more information and advice on insomnia, we recommend the following resources:

Smoking

Visit the NHS Smokefree website for information and advice on how to quit smoking and for help in finding local resources to help you quit.

Stress

See our Mental Wellbeing & Resilience page for information on stress