Work stress is a common phenomenon. It is associated with decreased work productivity, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and physical ailments. Although questionnaires exist for assessing work stress, they tend to measure general levels of stress that may or may not be related to harmful outcomes. In a Delphi study amongst mental health employees and experts in the field of work related stress, Christina van der Feltz-Cornelis introduced and explored the concept of benign work stress, that is associated with challenges resulting in rewards; and harmful work stress, that is associated with lower productivity, depression, anxiety and physical illness. Based upon this study, her team developed two questionnaires: the Work Stress Screener (WoSS), that discerns benign from harmful work stress, and the Work Resilience Screener (ReWoS), that assesses workplace resilience.
The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on work, study and living arrangements of University staff and students is clear. There is an urgent need to explore their stress levels, mental wellbeing and resilience in the current era. There is also a need to assess these levels later in the year, to see how they develop, as we will, gradually, return to less homebound work and living arrangements, and there is a need to explore how staff and students deal with this outbreak and its consequences in the long-term.