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Mental Health First Aid England Newsletter
August 5, 2019
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The August 2019 edition of the Mental Health First Aid England newsletter is available.

Take a read for the latest mental health campaign news, including their first social impact report celebrating our whole community’s hard work and passion for improving the nation’s mental health and updates about new MHFA England digital badges.

Read your August newsletter here

To Tackle Our Mental Health Crisis, Career Guidance Could be Surprisingly Important

Being unemployed tends to be bad for your mental health.

We know this from long-term studies which show that people’s mental health often deteriorates when they become unemployed and can improve when they get a new job. It can be a vicious circle, since people with mental health difficulties can also struggle to get hired.

When you don’t have a job, it tends to reduce your access to things that nourish mental well-being: a sense of identity, a sense of purpose, structure to the day, contact with other people and opportunities to use skills. Not to mention money, which is a big source of anxiety if you don’t have a decent supply coming in.

Young people are particularly at risk here, since they tend to be among the hardest hit when the labour market takes a dive. Indeed, it’s hard enough for them to find work when the employment market is buoyant. And this group have more than their fair share of other threats to their mental well-being. They have to deal with the worst of social media, early heartbreaks and combustible friendships. Many will be experimenting with drink and drugs, getting into conflicts with their parents and struggling to have enough money to stand on their own two feet.

In the UK, for example, around one in six people aged 17-19 have some kind of mental health condition, and the incidence among young people more generally has been steadily climbing. In the US, the suicide rate among 18- to 19-year-olds is up 56% in a decade.

Living with the scars

While many big categories of illness, such as cancers or heart problems, tend to present in mid to late adulthood, mental health conditions often appear when people are teenagers or in their early 20s. In many cases, they recur, and the consequences can multiply over someone’s lifetime.

Though most young people experience only passing phases of unemployment, for those who experience longer periods, there is emerging evidence that it can lead to what has been described as “scarring”. They are more likely to struggle to hold down jobs throughout their lives, for instance, and to earn less. There is also recent evidence from Sweden and the US of health effects well into mid-adulthood. From a broader perspective, this is a serious problem for the economy. It means lost productivity, lower tax revenues, and higher sickness-related benefits and medical/social care costs.

If this makes it obvious that we should do whatever we can to minimise youth unemployment, it’s easier said than done. This is a complicated problem that doesn’t lend itself to quick fixes. Yet one area that deserves much more attention is career guidance. People can sometimes be sceptical about its value, based on vague recollections of adolescent conversations with a career adviser that didn’t seem to make much difference to them.

Yet we mustn’t let this blind us to the potential. Like any kind of one-to-one help, career guidance provides a safe space to share worries and concerns. It helps people to review and recognise their strengths, injects hope by giving them a sense of their possible study and work options, and motivates and equips them to take action. Career guidance can help you figure out who you are, what your goals are, and how to get there – and this kind of clarity can act as a buffer against stress and uncertainty.

Above all, career guidance can prevent unemployment. It enables people to access life opportunities in work and education, and opens up all the benefits of participation. Some government initiatives put pressure on unemployed people to take the first available job, irrespective of its quality or relevance to their lives. But career guidance is about long-term planning based on what motivates an individual. Done well, it sets people on a path that can sustain them in the long term.

Room for improvement

The quality of career guidance varies considerably from country to country. Yet a recent OECD study found common problems around the world, including insufficient resources, inadequately prepared staff, and poorer services for students from disadvantaged areas. The study pointed to a number of problems in England, with students demanding “more and better” advice, while concluding that the service in Scotland was “well developed and comprehensive”.

Across the board, there’s much room for improvement. We need to recognise the role that career guidance can play as a public health intervention. It can potentially reach all young people through the school system, and has good access to the most vulnerable groups. It might help build resilience if combined with teaching young people important life skills, such as career management and stress management.

Career guidance may feel far removed from health, but we need to understand that illness has socioeconomic causes, and at least to some extent, socioeconomic remedies. I find that professionals in this field are slowly waking up to the mental health needs of their client base, but this has yet to filter through to many of those in charge of policy. They need to get the message that properly resourced and consistently delivered career services have the power to improve our mental health – both now and for years into the future.

Guide to Spotting the Stresses of Climbing the Career Ladder
May 30, 2019
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Landing a promotion, getting your first full-time job or returning to work after having a baby are all meant to be exciting milestonesgrayscale photography of hands under body of water in a person’s life. However, expectations of these events may leave employees feeling underwhelmed when they occur.

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19th May), Bupa Health Clinics1 has released a new report which reveals Britons admit to feeling upset or down after comparing their experience of a milestone to someone else’s on social media. Eighty-five per cent of people said they felt this way when returning to work after having a baby; 70% said it happened when starting their first job and 64% said they felt low after getting a promotion and seeing someone celebrate the same occasion on social media. 

Bupa Health Clinics’ Medical Director, Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, says:

“This new research shows how important it is for business leaders to be aware of their employees’ highs, as well as lows. It is important for leaders to be aware of external pressure that employees can bring into work and not just recognising pressures of things at work. 

“It’s easy to assume that someone getting a promotion or returning to work after having a baby has good mental wellbeing, but that isn’t always the case.”

Read more

Mental Health Awareness Week: 13 – 19 May 2019

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 will take place from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May 2019. The theme for 2019 is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodiesMental Health Awareness Week, body image banner

Body image issues can affect all of us at any age. During the week we will be publishing new research, considering some of the reasons why our body image can impact the way that we feel, campaigning for change and publishing practical tools.

Since our first Mental Health Awareness Week in 2001, we’ve raised awareness of topics like stress, relationships, loneliness, altruism, sleep, alcohol and friendship. This year, with your support, we want to reach more people than ever!

Find out more HERE

Presentations for Career Professionals Interested in Mental Health
March 22, 2019
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Mental health has become a crucial consideration for career development professionals, whether examining how it relates to their clients’ career development or their own well-being. Following are links to the slides from several presentations at CERIC’s 2019 Cannexus conference that examined the topic from various angles.

CERIC

CERIC is a charitable organization that advances education and research in career counselling and career development, in order to increase the economic and social well-being of Canadians.

Linking Improved Career Development & Mental Health Together – Clarence DeSchiffart

In reviewing mental health and career development concepts, it appears the principles are striving for the same outcome – helping someone to a better and happier life. This session offered a detailed examination and comparison of specific core mental health and career development principles. Read more

Mental Health Resources for Employers
February 26, 2019
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If you have staff who need support with their mental health, the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service delivered by Remploy, funded by the Department of Pensions, provides confidential mental health support in the workplace, at no cost to you.

To help you get the most out of the programme they have developed a simple toolkit with links to a variety of useful and valuable resources.

Download Your Copy HERE

A Canadian ViewPoint: Supporting Clients with Mental Health Challenges
October 19, 2018
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Career development practitioners should take a holistic approach, supporting their clients’ mental health while helping them navigate career planning By Derrick McEachern

Career planning is a mental-health intervention and a well-being practice. What people do each day shapes who they are and how they feel about their daily lives

People who are disengaged from their work, unemployed, undergoing a work transition or ambivalent about their career path may struggle to varying degrees with stress, uncertainty, low self-worth, anxiety and, in many cases, depression. However, government programs traditionally focus solely on employment: helping people find work using their current skills or retraining them in specifically targeted fields with a high probability of employment.

Well-being and mental-health research (Walsh, 2011) suggest a more holistic approach is necessary. There is a need for more comprehensive services that account for employees’ lifestyle factors and support employee engagement and retention while also addressing mental-health problems.

Well-being and mental health

In their book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, Tom Rath and Jim Harter document research conducted across 155 countries that suggests five interconnected elements are predictive of overall well-being. Read more

Overcoming Barriers to Returning to Work after a Mental-Health Leave
October 18, 2018
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How clients can learn to recognize stressors and develop strategies to better manage them during career change By Mary Ann Baynton

Any transition in life can be stressful. Career transition in particular often happens at the same time as other life stressors, including personal, family, health or financial concerns. Recognizing our current reactions to stress and choosing healthier, more effective responses is what building resilience is all abou

Resilience is the capacity to adapt or recover from stressful situations, including a transition into the workforce or from one job to another. Building resilience doesn’t mean you’ll avoid stress. What it means is that you’ll be able to cope better and recover from stress more effectively.

Research has helped us understand practical strategies to build resilience.

Identifying our stress responses

For most of us, stress is a daily occurrence and our responses to it are automatic. This means we don’t choose or plan them. With that in mind, if we can identify some of our immediate responses to stress, we’re more likely to recognize and address them before they create a major life or health concern.

Some automatic responses can be physical in nature – cold sores, hives, and sweating or stomach problems. Some may be behavioural responses such as reaching for a substance, sleep pattern changes, clumsiness, forgetfulness, impatience, overscheduling or overworking. Emotional responses may also be present and could include irritability, anger, frustration or emotional outbursts. Read more

New Relationships and Health Education in Schools

All schools will teach children about good physical and mental health, how to stay safe on and offline, and the importance of healthy relationships under bold new plans published today by Education Secretary Damian Hinds.

Under the proposals, all pupils will study compulsory health education as well as new reformed relationships education in primary school and relationships and sex education in secondary school.

The guidance – which was last updated in 2000 – will become compulsory in all schools across the country from September 2020, and will put in place the building blocks needed for positive and safe relationships of all kinds.Students

Schools will be supported as they prepare to teach the new subjects and will be able to begin doing so as soon as the materials are ready and available from September 2019, building on the existing best practice that will be shared by high performing schools.

By making health education compulsory we will ensure pupils are taught about the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, what determines their physical health and how to build mental resilience and wellbeing. It will also make sure children and young people learn how to recognise when they and others are struggling with mental health and how to respond.

The proposals, which follow the publication of the Childhood Obesity Plan and the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Green Paper, will ensure that the importance of good physical and mental health are an integral part of the updated subjects.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: Read more

Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) Resources
July 13, 2018
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 MHFA came to England in 2007 and was launched under the Department of Health: National Institute of Mental Health in England (NIMHE) as part of a national approach to improving public mental health.

MHFA training courses were first developed in Australia in 2001. In the years since it has evolved into a global movement with licensed programmes in 24 countries and counting. Over two million people have been trained in MHFA skills worldwide.

They have numerous free resources to download on their website tailored to schools, workplaces and universities.

For example, their  Line Managers Resource is an increasingly valuable tool for line managers across the spectrum of private, public and third–sector organisations. Exceptionally practical, the resource offers a step-by-step framework for creating healthier workplaces and has traditionally focused on key areas such as how to spot an employee experiencing mental ill health, and how to manage and support them at work, while they are off sick, and when they return after sickness absence. The resource also provides signposts to relevant employment legislation and further sources of help for both the individual and the organisation.

To view their full range of resources Click Here