Remote Working Leading to ‘Hidden Fractures’ in the Workforce
October 16, 2020

Hidden fractures’ caused by working from home are forming in the workforce and risk causing irreparable damage to cultures and productivity, according to new research from digital culture platform Totem.

The organisation’s survey of 1,000 UK employees found that while the shift to home working during the coronavirus pandemic has been a positive experience for many, there have been issues emerging around a lack of interaction, collaboration, recognition and support that could cause lasting damage to workplace trust, culture and engagement.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of employees feel that working from home has had a positive impact on workplace culture, with the majority (61%) saying they are able to complete their work effectively while working from home.

But despite these benefits, Totem also found that while working from home, over half (55%) of employees feel it has been harder to work as a team, 54% feel less motivated, and 51% feel it is harder to reach out for help from teammates.

Totem warned that unless employers address these issues, surviving and maintaining growth as the economy recovers after the pandemic will be a much bigger challenge, particularly as remote working is likely to remain the norm for most in the short and medium term.

Marcus Thornley, CEO of Totem, said that businesses would have to find new ways to celebrate daily successes if remote teams are to stay motivated.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “The saying goes ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and, worryingly, for many companies working remotely right now, that may be the case as they struggle to communicate – and recognise each other’s successes – as they would in the office environment.”

The research also found there is a strong desire from many employees for remote working to continue.

While the majority (88%) of respondents worked from an office before COVID-19 hit, many people said they would now feel anxious (28%) or unhappy (18%) if their employer made it mandatory to return to the office full-time.

If they could choose, only 25% said they would work from an office full-time while 44% would choose hybrid working and the remaining 31% would choose to work from home full-time.

In addition to recognition (critical for 33% of respondents) the study found that accessible support and guidance when you need it (31%) was one of the most important elements to creating a positive remote working culture.

Thornley added: “First and foremost, business leaders need to design for remote. The reality is that many teams will have to operate on some sort of remote basis for the foreseeable future, so you need to ensure that you are working to create a shared experience, regardless of their location.

“For instance, although people may be sitting in their kitchen or living room, this doesn’t mean you can’t create meaningful experiences at key moments in employee life-cycles – whether that’s onboarding, promotions, new business wins, or leaving.

“If effectively supported, these key moments can positively shape sentiment towards employers, role and colleagues.”

Consumer research for the survey was undertaken on behalf of Totem by Pollfish, with fieldwork conducted online on 11September 2020.

Complimentary aelp Webinar
September 21, 2020


The mental health training market has boomed in the last 5 years, with courses such as Mental Health First Aid now incredibly popular amongst employers. Job applicants and staff with recognised skills in this area are considered increasingly attractive to organisations.

But with that boom has come a plethora of different courses – from personal well-being to mental health advocacy, stress management to suicide prevention.

Organisations considering introducing such courses face a huge breadth of choice, and often some confusion as to which options might work best for them. Beyond selecting the “right” product, there’s staff competence in delivering the subject, safe recruitment of learners onto a course that may contain sensitive materials and a lack of clarification as to which qualifications are fully fundable and which aren’t.

This webinar will be delivered by an organisation that is very active in this market, but not looking to deliver Government-funded provision. You can be sure of an honest and thorough walk-through of options and hazards, to enable you to answer the question “what, if any, courses should we run?”


This webinar will focus on:

  • Why mental well-being is high on the education agenda
  • What subjects the training might cover
  • The potential pitfalls of delivering mental health training
  • Qualification options
  • The role of unaccredited learning and pastoral support


Managers and leaders from the skills sector considering mental health training for the 16+ market.


This webinar is sponsored by CACHE. Please register with your business email address for your complimentary place. 


Access to the live webinar, recording, slides and Q&As after the webinar.


Overcoming Barriers to Returning to Work after a Mental-Health Leave
June 26, 2020

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

The 11 Best Books on Mental Health
March 20, 2020

By Jamie Friedlander

Research has shown Google searches for mental health-related terms like depression, anxiety, bipolar and OCD spike during the wintertime. 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) leaves many people feeling more depressed during the cold and dark winter months. Plus, depression and anxiety peak for many people during the holiday season.

If the winter months left you feeling anxious or depressed—or if you’re struggling with a condition like bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or schizophrenia—and you’re interested in learning more about your experience, you’ve come to the right place. From memoirs to research-backed guides, these 11 books cover all things mental health. 

1. First, We Make the Beast Beautiful

A New Journey Through Anxiety 
By Sarah Wilson

Around 40 million people in the U.S. have anxiety or an anxiety-related disorder, such as panic disorder or social anxiety disorder. Learning about the clinical symptoms of anxiety is one thing—reading Sarah Wilson’s captivating firsthand account is another. The former editor of Australia’s Cosmopolitan magazine writes a hauntingly compelling narrative about her lifelong battle with anxiety that is engaging, relatable and insightful. 

2. Little Panic

Dispatches from an Anxious Life
By Amanda Stern

Published in 2018, this memoir from writer and poet Amanda Stern tells the often-comedic tale of what it feels like living with panic disorder. If you’ve been struggling with anxiety or a panic disorder for as long as you can remember, this book’s for you: Stern’s recounting primarily takes place during her childhood and teenage years. 

3. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed 
By Lori Gottlieb 

Ever wondered what your therapist is thinking during your appointments? If the answer is yes, go buy this book ASAP. Lori Gottlieb explores the world of therapy from a unique perspective—she writes about her role as both therapist and patient. You’ll find yourself gripped by the narratives she tells—some tragic, some hilarious—and in awe of the book’s astounding conclusion: We’re all human and flawed.

4(Don’t) Call Me Crazy

33 Voices Start the Conversation about Mental Health
By Kelly Jensen 

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy attempts to destigmatize mental health by exploring the problematic word crazy, a misnomeroften used to describe people who struggle with mental illness. The quick read features the stories of 33 people who have dealt with mental illness in some form, with their commentary on why we don’t talk about it enough—and why that needs to change. 

5. Get Out of Your Own Way

Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior
By Mark Goulston and Philip Goldberg

This book might have been published in 1996, but it’s still an incredibly insightful and worthwhile read. Through anecdotes and advice from Mark Goulston, a psychiatrist, you’ll learn about how to stop the self-sabotaging behavior so many of us fall victim to. 

6. Furiously Happy

A Funny Book About Horrible Things 
By Jenny Lawson

Journalist Jenny Lawson’s memoir about her lifelong journey with depression and other mental health problems is equal parts funny and endearing. Furiously Happy explores the nuanced, often contradictory world of mental health, with a look at how people can thrive and find happiness in spite of mood disorders like depression. 

7. The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays

By Esmé Weijun Wang

This critically acclaimed collection of essays from up-and-coming writer Esmé Weijun Wang details her journey with schizoaffective disorder, a condition characterized by symptoms of both schizophrenia (such as hallucinations) and mood disorders (like depression and mania). The Collected Schizophrenias details her journey, with a particular emphasis on the identity issues people with mental illness often face. 

8. The Noonday Demon

An Atlas of Depression 
By Andrew Solomon

No list on the best mental health books would be complete without this National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist. The Noonday Demon takes a deep, comprehensive look at depression through the lens of both Andrew Solomon’s personal experience and the experiences of others with the mood disorder. The nearly 600-page book also explores the cultural, political and scientific facets of depression.

9. The Happiness Trap

How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT
By Russ Harris

As a society, we’ve become obsessed with the pursuit of happiness. In this book, Russ Harris makes a compelling argument that instead of constantly searching for happiness and being let down, it’s more important to accept our current circumstances. The Happiness Trap explores a relatively new type of psychotherapy called acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), which aims to help people manage conditions like anxiety and depression using strategies focused on acceptance and mindfulness. 

10. Reasons to Stay Alive

By Matt Haig

Many people with anxiety also experience depression, and many people with depression also experience anxiety. In fact, research has found 45% of people with one mental health disorder meet the criteria for at least two disorders. U.K.-based writer Matt Haig is part of that 45%. His critically acclaimed, deeply moving memoir explores how he managed both conditions, taking a close look at what worked and what didn’t. 

11. An Unquiet Mind

A Memoir of Moods and Madness 
By Kay Redfield Jamison

This canonical book explores bipolar disorder—a condition characterized by extreme mood swings—from the lens of someone who’s not only a clinical psychologist and expert on the topic, but also suffers from the disorder herself. Kay Redfield Jamison’s unique perspective on bipolar disorder as both the patient and the practitioner has made An Unquiet Mind one of the most well regarded pieces ever written on the topic.   

Jamie Friedlander
Jamie Friedlander 

Jamie Friedlander is a freelance writer based in Chicago and the former features editor of SUCCESS magazine. Her work has been published in The Cut, VICE, Inc., The Chicago Tribune and Business Insider, among other publications. 

How to Combat Loneliness in Remote Workers
February 27, 2020

By Deborah Frost, Chief Executive of Personal Group.

Loneliness is a growing problem and can be particularly acute among remote staff who are often working alone.

The traditional nine to five working day is over. More people are instead taking advantage of remote work and gig economy opportunities – enjoying greater flexibility and a better work/life balance. 

However, remote workers may go days without human connection and loneliness can creep in. More than nine million people in the UK (almost a fifth of the population) say they get lonely, according to the British Red Cross

Loneliness affects workers of all ages and younger generations are particularly affected. A survey by YouGov revealed that 31% of 18- to 24-year-olds feel lonely often or all the time. 

With working practices continuing to evolve, professional isolation is a growing risk. HR leaders need to find ways to engage a wide range of employees who are out on their own – whether that is by choice or by design. This is crucial to keep people happy and motivated. Here are some small changes that could make a big difference to the way your workforce feels.

Keep up the communications

Regular and improved communications can remind employees that they are part of something much bigger. Company announcements about flu jabs, events or employee celebrations can help to build connections. Making sure people understand they are part of a much wider supportive network. 

Tailor rewards

Employees craving social interaction might appreciate everyday discounts to eat out, go to the cinema or head to a tourist attraction with friends or family. Recognition for great work could also come in the form of an experience – bringing workers together to have fun and enjoy each other’s company. 

Tackle the stigma

There is, unfortunately, still some stigma around loneliness, and remote workers may not want to put their hand up to say that is how they are feeling. The issue can bubble under the surface and lead to talented staff leaving the business. Normalising it can encourage more people to ask for help (or just a friendly catch-up) when they need it. 

Establish an emergency line

Social isolation can have a negative impact on mental health. By offering easy access to an around-the-clock support line workers can get the right information when they need it most. They can talk openly about the way they feel and get free confidential advice on how to make a change. 

Invest in the face to face

Take advantage of opportunities for in-person connections. This could include company away days or technology training to make sure people are fully connected to the business. Benefits providers should also offer to take groups of individuals through the employee services available to them, face to face, to help them see the value of the benefits on offer and how they can make the most of them. 

Look after the whole person

A happier and more motivated workforce is good for business. But, ultimately, we are all human beings and want to take care of our people. No-one should have to suffer in silence. 

The new-look workforce deserves better support for social wellbeing. Forward-looking employers are stepping up and putting human connection first.

Derby College Group Students Take Control of Mental #Wellbeing
October 18, 2019

Derby College Group (DCG) has launched a special toolkit to help students recognise triggers to mental health issues and better manage their own well-being.

The SEEDS programme is available on the college’s intranet and stands for the key ingredients to mental wellbeing: sleep, exercise, eat healthy, discuss and self-help. It offers practical advice on these key aspects and students to the support available both at College and externally.

Activities for students at Broomfield Hall college included petting sessions with some of the resident small animals and creatures at the Animal Care centre, craft activities and fitness challenges.

Helen Jefferson is DCG director of services for students and designated senior lead for mental health.  She explained:

“We have wide-ranging support in place for students but were keen to offer practical advice so that they can better recognise the triggers and understand the link between a healthy lifestyle and mental well-being.

“SEEDS has been specially developed within the college and we look forward to the feedback from students as they make use of the toolkit in the coming weeks and months.”

Meanwhile staff and Business students from the Roundhouse college supported East Midlands Railway’s R U OK campaign at Derby Station – encouraging passengers to speak up about stress and anxiety.

Students gave out leaflets and manned an Act of Kindness wall where people posted positive comments.

mental wellbeing 1

Timmy the Tenvec was amongst the animals available for a cuddle by students at Broomfield Hall college on World Mental Health Day

Millions in Local Investment to Support Children and Young People’s Mental Health

£3.3 million is being spent to expand 23 local projects to help prevent mental illness in children and young people.

Thousands of young people across England will benefit from new mental health support including counselling, mentoring and arts programmes in their communities. This will be backed by a multi-million pound government investment this year.

School children walking

As part of the government’s commitment to transforming mental health care – backed by an extra £2.3 billion a year through the NHS Long Term Plan – Mental Health Minister Nadine Dorries and Public Health Minister Jo Churchill today announce an investment of a further £3.3 million in 23 local community projects across England.

Earlier this year the government pledged to overhaul society’s approach to mental illness through better access to education, training and support across communities. This included a commitment to train all teachers to spot the signs of mental illness in children, making sure they can intervene before issues escalate.

The funding will allow more children and young people aged 25 and under to access local services to support their mental health, with early intervention for those at risk of mental health problems. The projects have an emphasis on improving access to support outside of NHS services, including for groups such as LGBT young people or those from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

Projects receiving funding include:

  • LifeLine Community Projects in Barking and Dagenham will receive over £298,000 to expand their work with young people most at risk of poor mental health, with preventative support to stop problems escalating and reduce pressure on NHS services
  • York Mind will receive £50,000 to expand their Arts Award programme, which connects young people to the arts, enabling them to increase their skills, confidence, sense of identity and reduce isolation, alongside one-to-one support
  • The Proud Trust’s Peer Support Project in Manchester will receive over £23,000 to support more LGBT young people through life-changing events, including discovering their sexuality/gender and coming out

See a full list of all projects receiving funding (PDF)

The funding will come from the Health and Wellbeing Fund, part of a programme of government investment in the voluntary sector. The projects will be fully funded through the scheme in their first year and additional joint funding from local commissioners will be agreed for 2 years afterwards.

Mental health services are being transformed through the NHS Long Term Plan so that 345,000 more children and young people have access to mental health support by 2024, including via mental health support teams in and around schools. This will significantly improve early intervention and prevention.

This funding boost follows last summer’s funding increase to the NHS budget, which will see the health service receive an extra £33.9 billion more every year by 2024 to support the NHS Long Term Plan.

Minister for Mental Health Nadine Dorries said:

“We know children and young people today face many pressures at home and in their social and academic lives but giving them easily accessible mental health support at an early age can help them thrive later in life.

“That’s why the government is investing billions every year to transform mental health care, and giving more money to innovative, community-led projects run by people who have chosen to dedicate their lives to supporting young people by providing them with the tools and means they need to manage their own mental health.”

Minister for Public Health Jo Churchill said:

“It’s only right that children and young people are able to access mental health support, not only through the NHS, but in the heart of their communities, schools and homes where they spend the majority of their time.

“The voluntary sector has a hugely important role to play in delivering these kinds of services and our Health and Wellbeing Fund is leading the way in ensuring government plays a role in cultivating the most effective, innovative and successful forms of community support – backed by an extra £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24 to improve NHS mental health services too.”

Kathy Roberts, CEO – Association of Mental Health Providers, said:

“The NHS Long Term Plan made a number of promises for mental health in the next 10 years, including the much-needed scaling up and improvement of support for children and young people.

“The voluntary sector has a key role in transforming mental health care and offers a range support for children and young people. The sector is innovative, has reach into communities, and there is huge potential to expand and scale up its offer. Association of Mental Health Providers therefore welcomes the Health and Wellbeing Fund’s focus on this important area and the funding of 23 exceptional voluntary and community sector projects.”

Mental Health First Aid England Newsletter
August 5, 2019

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

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.

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