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5 Contributors to Stress Every Mental Health Professional Should Know

One of the best ways to help others cope with stress may be by earning a degree in counseling.

Many people today suffer from too much stress in their lives. In the U.K., a 2018 poll revealed that 74% of people felt so stressed in the previous year that they were overwhelmed or unable to cope.1

Stress can contribute to a host of physical and mental symptoms, including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, rapid heartbeat, and digestive ailments. Over time, too much stress can also deplete the immune system, leaving people more vulnerable to infection. Mental health professionals often see the behavioral symptoms of stress in their clients, including increased intake of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs and nervous behaviors like trembling or pacing.

5 Contributors to Stress Every Mental Health Professional Should Know

While low levels of stress can motivate productivity, higher levels can be immobilizing. To ensure that clients receive the best care, licensed clinical mental health counselors should be aware of these top contributors to stress.

  1. Money

    Financial problems are one of the most common drivers of stress around the globe. In the U.S., it’s the top cause of stress, with more than 70% of Americans reporting they experience anxiety about finances.2 Those who are suffering from financial stress may argue with their spouse or family members about money, experience chronic insomnia, or avoid answering the phone or checking the mail because they are worried about bills and creditors.

  2. Work

    Unemployment is a clear stressor, but even those with dependable jobs can battle high stress levels associated with the workplace. That stress might spring from worries about losing a job, conflict with co-workers or bosses, or productivity expectations that are too high. Micromanagement can also cause a worker’s stress levels to skyrocket.

  3. Loss

    Loss can add tremendous stress to anyone’s life. If the death was of a child or a spouse, the emotional impact is especially profound. Grieving can continue for years, and if the individual does not cope with it in a healthy way, he or she will experience high levels of stress that can lead to depression, anxiety, and physical illness.

  4. Illness

    Living with illness, whether it’s a chronic condition or a terminal diagnosis, can be a major contributor to a person’s overall stress levels. For example, those who live with diabetes must monitor their blood sugar levels and work to keep them in a healthy range through diet, insulin infusions, or other means. This constant juggling act takes up a tremendous amount of time and mental energy, resulting in increased stress on both patient and caregiver.

  5. Caregiving

    In Western countries, people are living longer than ever. In fact, people age 85 and older represent the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.3 As a result, more adults are stepping into caregiving roles on behalf of parents or other family members in need of assistance. While caregiving is a rewarding choice, it comes with varying amounts of physical and emotional stress—especially if the caregiver is watching a loved one’s health and suffering worsen. Caregiver stress can result in social isolation, depression, exhaustion, and even substance abuse.

Mental health counselors can help clients deal with stress in healthy ways, minimizing its long-term emotional and physical effects. To learn more about the impact of stress and how to help others cope with it, consider pursuing an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Students in Walden University’s online master’s program have the opportunity to choose from specializations such as addiction counseling, forensic counseling, and trauma and crisis counseling. The engaging coursework prepares you to promote mental health and wellness competently—and with respect for diverse cultures.

Walden University is an accredited institution that offers an online MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,