New campaign to improve public mental health

The government has launched a new campaign to improve the mental health and wellbeing of the general public.

The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), which was only officially launched on 1st October 2021, has initiated its first campaign as part of the government’s mission to tackle health problems at an earlier stage.

The Better Health – Every Mind Matters campaign is designed to empower people to support their own mental health through practical tips and expert advice.

Half of adults struggling with mental wellbeing

It comes as new research commissioned by OHID, which will be responsible for tackling health inequalities across the nation, found that nearly half (49%) of adults in England said that the Covid-19 pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

The campaign aims to tackle this by urging people to find out “what works for me” in terms of reducing feelings of stress and anxiety, boosting mood, sleeping better and feeling in greater control of their lives.

The OHID study also revealed that just over a third of adults in England (34% or 15.1 million people) said they did not know what they could do to improve their own mental wellbeing.

Researchers also found that younger adults aged 18-34 were the most significantly affected group, with 57% within this age group saying that the pandemic had negatively affected their mental health and 44% admitting that they did not know what to do to improve it.

The Every Mind Matters platform enables people to answer 5 questions in exchange for a tailored ‘Mind Plan’ which will provide them with personalised tips.

Expert mental health advice

Minister for Care and Mental Health, Gillian Keegan, said the general public had demonstrated “great resilience” throughout the last 18 months but that the pandemic had “served as a stark reminder that we all need to look after ourselves not only physically, but mentally.”

She added:

“There are simple steps we can all be taking to improve our mental wellbeing and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. For anyone who is unsure what they can do, I urge you to visit Every Mind Matters and take advantage of the expert advice and practical tips available to you.”

Meanwhile, the NHS National Director for Mental Health, Claire Murdoch, assured people: “[…] The NHS is here for you, so if you’re struggling with anxiety and depression our rapidly expanding talking therapy services are available, while anyone who needs urgent help can access our 24/7 NHS crisis lines – available to people of all ages.

“I would encourage everyone to look after their mental health, and by answering 5 simple questions, get a tailored ‘mind plan’ which will give you tips to help boost your mood, sleep better and deal with stress and anxiety.”

Support for mental health campaign

The new campaign is supported by a coalition of mental health charities, including CALM, The Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Innovations and a range of commercial, third sector, NHS and local authority partners, including Mental Health First Aid England.

It has also received celebrity backing. Actor, writer and mental health advocate Stephen Fry is voicing a new television advert that highlights ‘what works for me’ and provides details of simple steps people can take to support their mental health, such as being active, talking about their worries or taking up a hobby.

He spoke in support of the campaign, saying:

“It’s fair to say that the last 18 months have presented us all with uniquely different and challenging obstacles from a mental health perspective. However, just like keeping in physical shape, it is important to find activities you enjoy to keep your mind healthy.

“I’ve found food preparation and cooking has helped me relax over the past year. It’s all about finding what works best for you to help deal with the everyday stresses and strains of life – it could be exercise, baking a cake or getting stuck in with gardening – the list is endless.

“If you are struggling and need advice then check out the Every Mind Matters website for tips and guidance to get you started today.”

Mental health training and support

Mental health learning and development solutions can also play a significant role in helping managers, supervisors and frontline workers to recognise mental health risks and proactively support positive mental health and wellbeing across the UK workforce.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

An accredited Mindful Employer themselves, FRT’s specialist mental health training courses include Understanding Mental HealthMental Health Awareness in the WorkplaceManaging Stress in the WorkplaceAnxiety and Phobias AwarenessSelf-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide qualified, approved trainers to deliver accredited Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training courses, including the Adult, Youth and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says:

“It’s vitally important that we prioritise our mental health and wellbeing in the same way that we do our physical health.

“There are simple steps we can all take to proactively support and promote positive mental wellbeing and it’s important that people are aware of these and that we are focusing on preventative strategies as well as treatment and recovery for those that need it. Our mental health courses look at ways of supporting mental health, including Mind’s five ways to wellbeing, and explore techniques to build emotional resilience.

“Businesses and organisations across the UK can experience immense benefits if they provide relevant mental health training for their staff.”

We have a number of free infographics available to download which provide simple tips for helping to manage your mental health and wellbeing. These include:

You can also download our free Guide to Mental Health Training from our website.

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

IOSH shares workplace strategies to prevent suicide

As World Suicide Prevention Day was observed earlier this month, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) shared workplace strategies to support people’s mental health and prevent suicide.

The world’s largest occupational health and safety body said that the Covid-19 pandemic had negatively impacted the mental health and wellbeing of people across the world, “exacerbating what was already a less than ideal situation.”

Studies reveal Covid-19-related suicides

IOSH cited international studies that particularly indicate a significant increase in emergency workers attempting to take their own life.

The professional body said that data compiled by the Laura Hyde Foundation charity revealed that more than 220 nurses attempted suicide in 2020 across England and Wales.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), this is more than the total number of nurses who took their own life over the five years between 2013 and 2017.

IOSH also cited a separate study which used retrospective media reports to identify a total of 26 worldwide Covid-19-related suicides among healthcare professionals.

A third study in Cyprus also suggested that healthcare workers were experiencing post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression as a result of the pandemic.

OSH professionals to identify and help those at risk

IOSH believes that supporting and promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in the workplace should form part of the occupational safety and health (OSH) role. Almost 3 in 4 respondents to the 2021 IOSH member survey agreed with them.

Karen Michell, the Research Programme Lead for Occupational Health at the professional body said it is time for businesses to “raise awareness and upskill where needed,” so that OSH professionals are equipped to “identify those at risk, advocate for them in the workplace and refer them on for supportive help as required.”

She also outlined key preventative strategies that OSH professionals could help implement in the workplace. These include:

  • Changing the culture at work to breakdown the stigma attached to mental health issues and encourage mental health conversations in the workplace
  • Asking colleagues if they are okay
  • Introducing interventions such as increased awareness of suicide and suicidal ideation among workers, training line managers and employees on how to identify the signs and offering access to support services that can help individuals.
  • Identifying a workplace mental health champion, who can confidently be approached for support.
  • Ensuring understanding of high-risk groups, including construction workers, nurses, doctors, police and firefighters.
  • Integrating suicide prevention strategies into existing mental health strategies in the workplace.
  • Ensuring post-ideation intervention and follow up
  • Managing issues at work that could lead to suicide and ideation, such as stress and poor control over psychological stressors.
  • Training mental health first aiders at work

IOSH offers a number of relevant resources for managing mental health and wellbeing at work, including their guide Working well – guidance on promoting health and wellbeing at work.

The National Institute of Mental Health identifies the following warning signs that someone may be at risk of suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling empty or hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
  • Exhibiting extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
  • Making a plan or investigating ways to kill themselves, such as researching online
  • Talking about feeling great guilt or shame
  • Acting anxious or agitated

The charity Heads Up also has advice on what to do if you notice any of these warning signs:

  • Start a conversation with the person, asking them how they’re feeling or telling them you’re worried about them
  • Ask the person if they are thinking of suicide, to help you understand how they’re feeling
  • Ask if you can contact someone who may be able to help them, such as a trained colleague or a crisis line

Non-stigmatised conversations about mental health

IOSH says that it’s also important for companies and trained mental health champions to have a list of trusted services to which they can refer workers at risk. These could include:

IOSH recently urged employers to consider mental health and wellbeing as employees return to the workplace following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

After a survey suggested that 40% of workers feel less resilient now than they did before the pandemic, and that over half feel under pressure to mask mental health challenges as they return to the workplace, IOSH’s Head of Advice and Practice, Duncan Spencer advised:

“We advocate that open and non-stigmatised conversations are proactively arranged by line managers as part of a strong overall mental health and wellbeing strategy.”

Further mental health training and support for the workplace

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider delivering a wide and diverse range of training courses.

They can provide training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, safeguarding, mental health, health and social care and other specialist subjects.

Their specialist mental health training range includes Understanding Mental HealthMental Health Awareness in the WorkplaceManaging Stress in the WorkplaceAnxiety AwarenessSelf-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide externally accredited trainers to deliver Mental Health First Aid England training courses, including Adult, Youth, Champion and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says:

“It is important that employers look at what they can do to promote and support positive mental health and wellbeing among their employees.

“People can be extremely scared to mention the word ‘suicide’ but often it is the culture of silence that poses the greatest risk to people’s safety and mental health. It’s important that we are proactive and training can really help people to feel more confident to offer support to those at risk when they need it the most.”

For more information about the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Parents have lost faith in child mental health care

An investigation carried out by the BBC has found that parents and headteachers have lost faith in the mental health care system for children and young people as they face “agonisingly” long waits for treatment.

After examining data from half of England’s services, investigators found that 1 in 5 children seen for mental health problems during the past year waited over 12 weeks.

Doctors have even reported that “distressed and agitated” children who have been struggling during the pandemic are ending up in emergency departments and are being admitted on to general wards, even though they lack specialist mental health support.

Dr Catherine Hayhurst, from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, told the BBC that it had become “difficult to manage on the wards.”

NHS England said there was “no doubt that the pandemic has turned children and young people’s lives upside down,” and that it was in the process of significantly expanding access to mental health services in order to help them.

Children face long waits for mental health support

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) saw 420,000 children and young people during 2020-21. However, an estimated 1.5 million under-18s are thought to have a mental health disorder.

The waits faced by children accessing these specialist services are not routinely published but data obtained by the BBC from 46 services through a Freedom of Information Request (FOIR) showed that half of those seen waited longer than four weeks. A fifth of referred children waited more than 12 weeks, and the average wait for services was more than two months. Shockingly, in some areas, waiting times even topped 8 months.

A third of the Trusts provided data on children and young people who were still waiting for specialist mental health support. The numbers have doubled since the first lockdown ended in June 2020.

The overall figures do suggest that there has been an improvement in waiting times since before the pandemic took hold, but this could be due to a reduction in people coming forward for help during the first national lockdown in 2020.

The BBC also reports that some of the services closed their waiting lists altogether during lockdown, meaning that the full extent of the waits could be undercounted.

Children’s mental health services ‘overwhelmed’

Now one headteacher says the long waits have caused her to lose faith with child mental health services.

Michelle Catterson runs Moon Hall School in Surrey, which teaches children aged 7 to 16 who have dyslexia. She says the pandemic has been “really difficult” for children and that the support they so desperately need is often missing.

She explained: “Services are completely overwhelmed as things stand currently.

“When I have parents that are in a really desperate situation, I’m often reluctant to refer them because I know the length of time that they’ll have to wait, and sometimes there just isn’t that opportunity to wait.

“You need that support right there, right then, to try and help the child and the family.”

Meanwhile, Emma Thomas, the Chief Executive of national youth mental health charity YoungMinds, said: “We have seen a big rise in referrals to mental health services and, as this data shows, it’s clear they have been struggling to cope. The pandemic has had a huge impact on young people’s mental health, exacerbating existing pressures and creating new ones.

“The young people we work with have told us that they have struggled with isolation, loneliness and concerns about the future, while those that experienced trauma during the lockdowns, or were already experiencing inequalities, are likely to be disproportionately affected.”

NHS England says that, by 2023, services will be able to support an additional 345,000 children and young people struggling with their mental health.

Plans also include the rollout of school mental health teams in order to provide earlier support to children than CAMHS services.

Children at risk while waiting for mental health care

The report by the BBC comes after Youth Mental Health Day, established by charity Stem4, which focussed this year on helping young people #StrideForward with their mental health and wellbeing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Stem4 Teachers Survey 2020 suggested that more than half (54%) of teachers felt their students’ mental health had suffered negatively as a result of the pandemic.

Despite this, less than a third of 5–19-year-olds with a mental health condition were receiving access to care and treatment on the NHS, and 73% of teachers said the pandemic had impacted their school or college’s ability to deliver on its own mental health strategy for pupils.

More than half of the teachers questioned (57%) said they feared students with mental health problems would come to harm while waiting for treatment.

Youth mental health training and support

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services.

Their courses include Understanding Mental Health, Youth Mental Health First Aid and Self-Harm Awareness.

A trainer from FRT says:

“Children have faced isolation, loneliness, academic upheaval, bereavement and other difficulties over the past year, and, on top of this, when they do come forward with concerns about their mental health they may have to wait a long time for the specialist support they need.

“It’s therefore vitally important that anyone who works closely with children and young people has an understanding of mental health, is able to spot the signs that someone may be struggling and can offer appropriate early help and support. Focused training can help with this.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Half of frontline workers say job pressures are ‘out of control’

An 18-month long study into wellbeing within the emergency services has found that frontline healthcare workers are exhausted and at high risk of experiencing mental health disorders and burnout.

The detailed report from mental health digital platform 87percent.co.uk, entitled The State of Mental Wellbeing on the Frontline, reveals that almost 1 in 2 (49%) frontline workers find their work commitments to be “out of control”, while 61% feel tired most of the time.

Over 10,000 frontline workers were tracked from March 2020 to examine how the Covid-19 mental health crisis has impacted this vital and high-pressured sector.

Emergency services face mental health crisis

Key figures from the report reveal the mental health crisis erupting within the sector following a period of enormous pressure. These include:

  • 10% of staff have recently had suicidal thoughts
  • 45% have felt panic or terror
  • 49% have been distressed by unwanted images and memories
  • 33% have difficulty concentrating
  • 32% report regular symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • 40% are at risk of developing mental health disorders
  • 39% report feeling regularly frustrated by their work

The study found that the majority of staff (60%) had an extremely poor work-life balance, with paramedics, emergency nurses and physicians most likely to report this.

The majority of frontline workers also revealed that their job takes a significant toll on their physical and psychological wellbeing, with 65% saying it made it difficult to sleep, while 63% said it prevents them from being physically fit and healthy. Over half (53%) also reported that the pressures of their job make it difficult to relax.

The researchers are warning that frontline healthcare workers are at high risk of developing conditions such as chronic stress, which can lead to burnout.

Commenting on the report, the Medical Director of NHS Practitioner Health, Dame Clare Gerada, said:

“Within the NHS workforce, many report feeling defeated by work, and these challenges are still unaddressed. Now is the time to normalise rather than catastrophise this sector’s distress and reduce the burden of mental illness on those who care for us.

“Every member of this workforce should be given support, and we must make easy access to services a priority. This report is timely and adds to the evidence that a real and genuine focus on the mental health and wellbeing of this sector will have a positive impact for the national health service.”

Proactive policies needed to improve mental health

Meanwhile, 87percent.co.uk say that the data from their study will provide workers and employers with “the tools that are clinically proven to improve their mental wellbeing.”

They assert that digital solutions can give employers insights on the most effective strategies for supporting and boosting the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.

Their clinical director Doctor Serra Pitts, who is also an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, says it’s vital that employers within the healthcare sector are proactive rather than reactive when it comes to managing mental health.

She explained that they can:

“[…] significantly improve the wellbeing of the frontline sector by having proactive policies that help to maintain work-life balance, access to wellbeing resources and expert-delivered training to equip leadership with the skills to understand the wellbeing challenges of their workforce.”

She added: “Crucially, technology can play a part in accurately measuring the mental fitness of workers and driving insights on the most effective wellbeing strategies for organisations. Tailored to their employees’ needs, these can significantly reduce the risk of mental health difficulties and help organisations thrive.”

Training solutions can support mental health

Mental health learning and development solutions can also play a significant role in helping managers, supervisors and frontline workers to recognise mental health risks and proactively support positive mental health and wellbeing across the workforce.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of providers within the health and social care sector, from NHS services to national and local adult social care providers.

An accredited Mindful Employer themselves, FRT’s specialist mental health training courses include Understanding Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace, Managing Stress in the Workplace, Anxiety and Phobias Awareness, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide qualified, approved trainers to deliver accredited Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training courses, including the Adult, Youth and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says:

“Those working within the health and social care sector have dealt with immense pressure and sadness over the last two years, including changing guidelines, equipment shortages, overwhelmed services, staff shortages, isolation, illness and loss. They have been at the coal face of this pandemic the entire time. It’s not surprising that it has taken its toll on their mental health and wellbeing.

“It’s vitally important for those within this sector to receive mental health care and support, and for organisations to ensure that relevant mental health training is provided for staff.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

It’s Youth Mental Health Day

Today (7th September) marks Youth Mental Health Day 2021, with the theme for this year focussing on how young people can #StrideForward with their mental health and wellbeing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Youth mental health problems are on the riseEstablished by leading youth mental health charity Stem4, the awareness day aims to encourage understanding and discussion of mental health in young people.

Stem4, which supports young people to build positive mental health, founded Youth Mental Health Day (YMHD) in the UK last year. They say that, even before the pandemic, 1 in 6 young people aged 5-16 were living with a mental health disorder.

Following recent challenging times, with national lockdowns, school closures and cancelled exams, it is believed that this figure will have risen.

Teachers fear for students’ mental health

Teachers are concerned about youth mental healthThe Stem4 Teachers Survey 2020 suggested that more than half (54%) of teachers felt their students’ mental health had suffered negatively as a result of the pandemic.

They reported that students were struggling with isolation and loneliness (68%), family difficulties (41%), anxieties around adjusting back to school and academic concerns (47%), friendship breakdowns (33.5%) and food poverty (33%).

Meanwhile, more than 7 in 10 teachers (73%) said the pandemic had impacted their school or college’s ability to deliver on its mental health strategy, leaving many students without the support they need.

Stem4 also revealed that less than 1 in 3 5–19-year-olds with a mental health condition actually get access to care and treatment on the NHS.

As a consequence of this gap in support, teachers were spending an average of 3.6 hours per week dealing with the mental health difficulties of their students. More than half (57%) said they feared students at their school with mental health problems would come to harm while waiting for treatment.

Urgent action needed for youth mental health

Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, founder of stem 4, and creator of apps Calm Harm and Clear Fear, said of the findings:

“[…] Since the start of the pandemic, stem4 has closely monitored daily downloads of our mental health apps: Calm Harm, which helps manage the urge to self-harm, and Clear Fear, which helps manage the symptoms of anxiety. What we see is mental health distress on an unprecedented scale, often as a direct consequence of policy decisions, without the needed interventions in place to minimise their negative effect.

“If this government is serious about turning the tide of mental ill health in this young generation, it needs to keep promises made, act decisively by ring-fencing funds for mental health treatment and take urgent action now. […]”

She added:

“stem4’s research clearly shows that schools and colleges are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on two fronts: physical and psychological. The time for action is now and what children and young people need is access to evidence based services at all levels, from early prevention through to expert NHS help.”

Bringing young voices to the fore

Youth Mental Health Day will put young voices front and centreStem4 says that YMHD helps to engage young people in discussions and activities about how to improve their mental and that it “goes beyond awareness and breaking the stigma surrounding mental health, into tackling the heart of the issue.”

The #StrideForward theme for YMHD 2021 was chosen after the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in numerous decisions being made on behalf of young people, without their input.

The charity says that the day will “place young voices front and centre of the conversation once more,” with young people from across the country invited to reflect on how the pandemic has impacted their lives and share how they intend to #StrideForward and build positive mental health.

Adults must make a commitment to young people

Youth Mental Health Day is intended to get adults across the UK to listen to young people and commit to help rebuild their mental health.

Stem4 provides resources on their website to help schools, sports groups, youth or community groups and workplaces get involved in a #StrideForward activity or event for YMHD 2021.

You can also join in the conversation on social media and share how you will #StrideForward in supporting positive youth mental health, using the campaign hashtag.

Youth mental health training and support

Training and support in youth mental healthFirst Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services.

Their courses include Understanding Mental Health, Youth Mental Health First Aid and Self-Harm Awareness.

A trainer from FRT says:

“We’ve seen countless research studies clearly demonstrating that instances of stress, depression and anxiety have risen during the Covid-19 pandemic, and this includes among children and young people.

“Research also suggests that more young people are expressing their mental health struggles through self-harming behaviours, at a time when they have been faced with isolation, loneliness, academic upheaval and other difficulties. This is extremely worrying.

“It’s vitally important that anyone who works closely with children and young people has an understanding of mental health, is able to spot the signs that someone may be struggling and can offer appropriate support. Focused training can help with this.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Workers feel under pressure to hide mental health struggles

A survey has found that many UK workers feel under pressure to hide their mental health struggles and “put on a brave face” at work as the government encourages them to head back to the office.

The survey of more than 2,000 people, commissioned by online healthcare provider Lime Insurance, found that just over half (51%) of respondents felt under pressure to disguise any mental health concerns from their colleagues.

Meanwhile, 4 in 10 said they felt less resilient than they did before the Covid-19 pandemic struck and just over a quarter (26%) said they did not feel as though they were coping at work.

‘Pleasanteeism’ undermines resilience

The research reveals that almost a fifth of workers (19%) are concerned about their stress and difficulty in coping being visible to others as they return to work.

Despite these fears, many feel they are not able to mask their stress and anxiety very well, with nearly 1 in 5 respondents admitting that they believe their colleagues are aware that they are hiding deeper issues.

Lime has coined the term “pleasanteeism” to describe how workers are putting on a brave face and presenting the very best versions of themselves in the workplace.

This pressure to keep up appearances is undermining efforts to create an open culture and dialogue concerning mental health at work, eroding resilience and impacting productivity, with Lime describing it as a “plague” on UK businesses.

While trying to mask their mental health challenges, 44% of workers said they felt that low personal resilience impacts their ability to do their job effectively and many admitted that stress and poor mental health has caused them to have an unproductive day (28%), lose concentration or make a mistake at work (17%), forget an important task (17%) or call in sick (9%).

The study from Lime concludes that:

“Businesses are sleepwalking into a mental health crisis.”

Workers encouraged to head back to the office

The stress of the commute can lead our buckets to overflowIt comes as the government encourages people to stop working from home and gradually return to workplaces, with chancellor Rishi Sunak suggesting this was particularly important for younger workers.

He told LinkedIn News: “I doubt I would have had those strong relationships if I was doing my summer internship or my first bit of my career over Teams and Zoom.

“That’s why I think, for young people in particular, being able to physically be in an office is valuable.”

The recent survey results, however, indicate that young people are particularly likely to be experiencing mental health concerns.

The researchers found that 43% of women aged 16-24 and almost half (49%) of men aged 16-24 feel less resilient now than they did before the pandemic.

They also noted that women feel they are under more pressure than their male colleagues to hide any mental health struggles from employers and colleagues, with younger women feeling the pressure the most.

Employers need to do more

Less than 1 in 6 respondents (16%) said they felt their mental health was “very well supported” in the workplace, while over a third (36%) said they did not feel as though their employers offered them enough support generally.

This is despite the fact that the vast majority of workers (81%) want their employers to give them help with their mental wellbeing. Now, the research suggests, 4 in 10 workers are prepared to look for a new job if their employer does not do more.

When asked how employers could help support their mental health and wellbeing, respondents suggested the following measures:

  • Focusing on workload and work/life balance (25%)
  • Allowing greater flexibility in working hours (22%)
  • Enabling workers time out for personal commitments (20%)
  • Offering mental health days off work (20%)

The Head of Workplace Wellbeing at national mental health charity Mind, Emma Mamo, said there was no “one size fits all” approach to creating an open culture of mental health in the workplace, but that “regularly communicating and providing opportunities for staff to talk about any issues they’re facing,” are vital steps for employers to take.

She also advises employers to conduct staff surveys to understand the causes and triggers for poor mental health at work so they can implement measures to mitigate these.

Mind asserts that “a culture of fear and silence around mental health is costly to employers”, and provides free resources to help improve mental wellbeing and employee engagement.

The full report from Lime can be viewed and downloaded online.

Further mental health support and training

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider delivering a wide and diverse range of training courses.

They can provide training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, safeguarding, mental health, health and social care and other specialist subjects.

Their specialist mental health training range includes Understanding Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness in the WorkplaceManaging Stress in the WorkplaceAnxiety AwarenessSelf-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide externally accredited trainers to deliver Mental Health First Aid England training courses, including Adult, Youth, Champion and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says:

“As we hopefully continue to recover from the pandemic and return to some sort of normal, mental health and wellbeing needs to be high on the agenda for everyone.

“The government has promised to improve mental health support as part of their efforts to ‘build back better’ after the pandemic, but employers also need to look at what they can do to promote and support positive mental health and wellbeing among their employees

“As with most things, prevention is better than cure and it’s important that we really shift from a reactive approach when it comes to protecting our mental health.

“Training can really help with this; our mental health training courses include content on supporting your mental health at all times, and building emotional resilience.”

For more information about the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Childline supports young people with sexuality and gender identity

During Pride Month, Childline has voiced its support for children and young people struggling with their gender identity or sexuality.

The national charity helpline says that, over the past year, it has seen a 29% increase in the number of young people contacting them to talk about concerns relating to coming out.

The helpline says that the challenging year faced by all of us has seen many young people cut off from their usual support networks and has also resulted in others feeling worried about returning to school.

Concerns from young people

Between April 2020 and March of this year, the helpline conducted a total of 5,046 counselling sessions with young people about gender identity and sexuality.

Young people contact childline over concerns about their sexualityIn over half of these (2,638), the young person cited coming out as a concern, with some also revealing that they worried about the reaction they would receive from other people.

Many young people (1,467) speaking about their gender identity and sexuality also cited their mental and emotional health as an additional concern, and other related concerns included family relationships, school, friendship issues and self-harm.

For some, lockdown had exacerbated these concerns while, for others, it had provided time for reflection or an opportunity to come out to friends and family.

All children should be listened to

The Service Head of Childline, Alex Gray, explained:

“At Childline, we know that coming out or speaking about sexuality and gender identity can sometimes be really challenging

“Some children with sexuality and gender concerns revealed that lockdown had been particularly hard for them, as they’d been cut off from their usual support networks. Whereas others told Childline that lockdown had given them the confidence and freedom to come out to their friends and family. However, some worried they may have lost this confidence when returning to school.

“No matter what a young person’s experience is with coming out or speaking about their gender identity, at Childline we believe every young person has a right to be listened to and to be able to speak about any worries or questions they may have about their gender identity and sexuality without feeling judged.

“If a young person feels unable to speak to a trusted adult in their life, then we would encourage them to speak to Childline.”

Offering support

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

sexuality and gender identityThey work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services. Their courses include Understanding Mental Health, Youth Mental Health First Aid and Self-Harm Awareness.

A trainer from FRT says: “If a young person is struggling with their sexuality or gender identity, or is worried about coming out, including how they may be treated and the impact it may have on their closest relationships, this can significantly impact their mental health and wellbeing.

“It’s important that anyone who works closely with children and young people has an understanding of mental health, is able to spot the signs that someone may be struggling and can offer appropriate support. Focused training can help with this.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Childline counsels 90,000 children during pandemic

The NSPCC’s confidential helpline, Childline, delivered nearly 90,000 counselling sessions for young people worried about mental health or abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The national children’s charity said they had grown increasingly concerned about the “huge toll” the pandemic has had on young people.

Data from Childline for the period 1st April 2020 until 31st March 2021 reveals:

  • The service has conducted over 73,000 counselling sessions about mental or emotional health
  • 5,646 of those counselling sessions were held with children aged 11 or under, which represents an increase of almost a third (29%) from the previous year
  • The service also delivered 16,610 counselling sessions about abuse
  • Counselling sessions about emotional abuse increased by almost a fifth (18%) compared to the previous year

The charity also revealed that more children and young people have been accessing their Childline resources, information and tools online, showing they have been taking proactive steps to support their own emotional and mental wellbeing during this challenging time.

The NSPCC is now calling for the government to invest in a plan for children which is not limited to ensuring that they catch up on school work, and instead extends to providing mental health support in the classroom and the community.

They are also hosting ‘Childhood Day’ on 11th June where they’re encouraging people to celebrate childhood by organising a play event to raise money and help keep children safe.

Dame Esther Rantzen, the founder of Childline, said: “Throughout this pandemic, children and young people have had to deal with so many difficult new challenges, many knowing that their families were struggling with health worries and financial issues, some locked down in unsafe homes, deprived of their schools which may have been their only refuge. Many have told Childline that they have struggled to cope and their mental health has suffered as a result.

“Childline’s counsellors have been tremendously impressed by the resilience of so many young people during the pandemic, supporting themselves and each other. Nevertheless, we are all only too aware that not only education has suffered, but so has the opportunity to play. My grandchildren have told me how much they have missed their friends during lockdown. Play is such an important part of childhood, building confidence and creating relationships. After the year we’ve had, I am really looking forward to joining my own family on Childhood Day. I do hope as many families as possible will be able to do the same, to enjoy each other’s company and have fun and play together.

“I want to remind children everywhere that Childline is always there for them, no matter how big or small their problem, offering comfort and support which is free, confidential, on the phone or online.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services. Their courses include Safeguarding Children.

A trainer from FRT says: “Children and young people have missed out on so much during the past year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, while many vulnerable children have been in unsafe situations with little support or anyone able to notice and help.

“The pandemic has clearly taken a serious toll on youth mental health and it’s important that support for them is prioritised in our communities.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Global standard for mental health at work

The first global standard to help employers manage psychosocial hazards at work is due to arrive this summer.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) spoke out earlier this month to welcome the impending arrival of ISO 45003 “as a proactive attempt to make good mental wellbeing part of a company’s culture.”

The world’s leading body in workplace safety and health said the new standard was “eagerly awaited.”

Its arrival will coincide with the continued controlled easing of national lockdown restrictions that have been in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with many businesses once again adapting their practices to enable more face-to-face interaction to resume within the workplace.

A standard to manage psychosocial risks

ISO 45003 will provide employers with practical guidance on how to manage psychosocial hazards for their staff in the workplace.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines psychosocial risk as any risk related to how work is managed and organised, from social aspects to elements of the workplace environment and any hazardous tasks.

It is believed that such psychosocial hazards are present in all kinds of workplaces and every industry sector, and stem from all kinds of employment arrangements.

These psychosocial hazards can result in employees experiencing stress, fatigue or even bullying and harassment. If left unchecked, these can all lead to serious mental health problems.

An extension of workplace health and safety

The new global standard can be seen as an extension of ISO 45001, the established global standard designed to help employers manage the risks of work-related injuries and ill-health and to provide safe and healthy workplaces.

ISO 45003 builds on this purpose to define a psychologically healthy and safe workplace as one that “promotes workers’ psychological wellbeing and actively works to prevent harm to psychological health, including in negligent, reckless or intentional ways.”

Stavroula Leka, Professor of Work Organisation and Wellbeing at the Business School of University College Cork and co-convener of the working group responsible for developing ISO 45003, explained:

“With mounting data that poor work organisation, design and management is associated with poor mental health, absenteeism, presenteeism and human error, it was felt that a specific guidance standard on psychosocial risks was needed.”

She assured businesses that the new standard was “not trying to turn line managers into psychologists,” but rather that it was “about how organisations create a positive psychosocial environment. It’s guidance for designing work in a more preventative way so that psychological ill-health issues don’t arise.”

Meanwhile, IOSH’s Head of Advice and Practice, Duncan Spencer, commented:

“We very much welcome ISO 45003 as a proactive attempt to make good mental wellbeing part of a company’s culture. For too long, organisations have focussed predominantly on treating the symptoms of mental ill health in the workplace; this new standard is an important step towards addressing the causes of it too. Protecting the mental wellbeing of staff is vital in building a resilient and sustainable organisation.”

IOSH’s President, Jimmy Quinn, admitted that there was “still plenty to do to convince employers they need to take a ‘prevention first’ approach to managing mental health and wellbeing but the good news is there’s a growing amount of support out there from bodies such as IOSH, including affordable advice and training, while initiatives like ISO 45003 will undoubtedly help.”

Line managers need support like ISO 45003

In March 2019, a research study carried out by IOSH in partnership with Management Today revealed that two thirds of line managers felt they were not receiving enough support and training to enable them to protect the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.

It also found that 80% of workers feared stigmatisation and being seen as incompetent in their role if they opened up to their line manager about experiencing mental health problems.

The study findings led IOSH to develop a white paper which provided guidance on the role of line managers in promoting positive mental health at work.

Shifting from a reactive approach to mental health at work

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider delivering a wide and diverse range of training courses.

They can provide training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, safeguarding, mental health, health and social care and other specialist subjects.

Their specialist mental health training range includes Understanding Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace, Managing Stress in the Workplace, Anxiety Awareness, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide externally accredited trainers to deliver Mental Health First Aid England training courses, including Adult, Youth, Champion and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says: “As we hopefully continue to recover from the pandemic and return to some sort of normal, mental health and wellbeing needs to be high on the agenda for everyone.

“The government has promised to improve mental health support as part of their efforts to ‘build back better’ after the pandemic, but employers also need to look at what they can do to promote and support positive mental health and wellbeing among their employees.

“As with most things, prevention is better than cure and it’s important that we really shift from a reactive approach when it comes to protecting our mental health.

“Training can really help with this; our mental health training courses include content on supporting your mental health at all times, and building emotional resilience.”

For more information about the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Mental health support outlined in Queen’s Speech

The government has pledged to improve mental health support as part of their plans for “unleashing our nation’s full potential” as the UK recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Boris Johnson’s legislative agenda for the new parliamentary session was outlined in the Queen’s Speech yesterday (Tuesday 11th May 2021).

In an event that was pared down due to Covid-19, Her Majesty set out a number of forthcoming bills and revealed that the government’s key priority is rebuilding the country following the devastation caused by the pandemic.

In her first major public ceremonial duty since the death of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, last month, the Queen said:

“My government’s priority is to deliver a national recovery from the pandemic that makes the United Kingdom stronger, healthier and more prosperous than before.

“To achieve this, my government will level up opportunities across all parts of the United Kingdom, supporting jobs, businesses and economic growth and addressing the impact of the pandemic on public services.”

New legislation

The 10-minute speech, delivered in the House of Lords, highlighted 30 new laws that ministers intend to pass in the coming year.

These include bills to support infrastructure and “levelling up,” such as the Procurement Bill and the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill, which will extend 5G mobile coverage and introduce new safety standards for digital devices.

The Armed Forces Bill will put the Armed Forces Covenant into law and a number of bills will deal with borders and security. These include the draft Online Safety Bill, which aims to tackle harmful and illegal content online. Bills were also outlined for constitutional reform, housing, education, the environment and animal welfare.

The Queen’s Speech also announced plans to hold a consultation on introducing a legal ban on so-called ‘gay conversion therapy’ in England and Wales and made reference to new measures to reduce racial and ethnic disparities.

Protecting the health of the nation

The Queen also spoke of the government’s plans to “protect the health of the nation,” which include the continuation of the vaccine rollout and additional funding for the NHS.

She said:

“My Ministers will bring forward legislation to empower the NHS to innovate and embrace technology. Patients will receive more tailored and preventative care, closer to home [Health and Care Bill]. Measures will be brought forward to support the health and wellbeing of the nation, including to tackle obesity and improve mental health. Proposals on social care reform will be brought forward.”

The Health and Care Bill will aim to better integrate the NHS and social care systems.

There was criticism, however, over the lack of a specific bill to address social care funding or new legislation to replace the Mental Health Act.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticised the government for the speech, saying there was “no legislation, no new funding, no details, no timescale,” for social care reform.

Mind responds to Queen’s Speech

Meanwhile, Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at national mental health charity Mind, said the Queen’s Speech represented “a missed opportunity for the UK Government to really set out how they plan to level up inequality across the country and meet demand for mental health support.”

Calling for a consultation on the Mental Health Act White Paper, the charity said: “Given the scale of mental health demand and the disproportionate use of the Mental Health Act on people from racialised communities, it is critical the UK government sets a public date for new legislations to be introduced. This must be backed up by increased funding, including capital funding to make sure that mental health settings are safe, fit for purpose and offer a therapeutic environment so people can get the support they need and deserve when at crisis point for their mental health.”

They also voiced concerns about the lack of specific measures to tackle social care funding and reform, explaining: “Mental health care services and additional social care support could help prevent those at risk of developing mental health problems for the first time as we come out of lockdown and recover from the pandemic.”

In relation to the Health and Care Bill, they added:

“We’re concerned at absence of mental health within new structures proposed by the White Paper published earlier in the year. The NHS must make good on commitments to make sure people get the same level of care for their mental health as their physical health.

“We want to see mental health at the heart of these proposals, including making sure people with long term physical health problems can get the support for their mental health they need too.”

Mental health awareness

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider delivering a wide and diverse range of training courses.

They can provide training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, safeguarding, mental health, health and social care and other specialist subjects.

Their specialist mental health training range includes Understanding Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace, Managing Stress, Anxiety Awareness, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide externally accredited trainers to deliver Mental Health First Aid England training courses, including Adult, Youth, Champion and Lite versions.

FRT are holding a free Mental Health Awareness seminar on Thursday 13th May to mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2021. Held via webinar, the live online seminar will take place from 1-3pm on Thursday and is open to both new and existing clients.

The seminar will cover:

  • Mental health myths and facts
  • Types of mental health disorder
  • Attitudes and impacts of mental ill health
  • Supporting people with a mental health problem
  • Further resources and advice

A trainer from FRT says:

“Collectively, our mental health and wellbeing has certainly taken a hit over the last 12 months or so.

“We’re pleased to see that improved support for mental health is part of the government’s agenda for building back better after the pandemic, now specific measures are needed to ensure people’s mental health and wellbeing is protected.”

For more information about the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Mental Health Awareness Week highlights benefits of nature

Taking place from 10th-16th May, Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 will focus on the role nature can play in boosting our mental wellbeing.

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, the annual awareness week will encourage people to connect with the natural world around them to help support their psychological and emotional health.

The theme for 2021 was chosen after the clear positive impact that spending time in green spaces and experiencing wildlife had on people’s mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting national lockdowns in the UK.

Nature vital for mental health

Research by the Mental Health Foundation shows that 45% of people felt that being in green spaces had been vital for their mental health during the pandemic.

Other studies also found that people were noticing nature more, as well as spending more time in it, during lockdowns. Meanwhile, websites which feature footage from wildlife webcams saw hits increase by over 2000% during the past year.

This all demonstrates that a greater connection to the natural world has been crucial for us during a time when we felt vulnerable, unsettled, and threatened.

The Mental Health Foundation asserts that nature “is our great untapped resource for a mentally healthy future.”

They have pledged to collate the evidence that proves the benefits of nature for our mental health and will highlight nature’s ability to comfort us in times of stress and boost “our creativity, empathy and sense of wonder.”

They want to demonstrate that even small contacts with nature can help to reduce feelings of social isolation, protect our mental health and prevent distress.

After all, the national charity says that prevention is at the heart of what they do.

Connect with nature

They are using the hashtag #ConnectWithNature and encouraging people to get involved with the awareness campaign this year by sharing resources, fundraising activities, school packs, a downloadable nature journal and green ribbon pin badges and face coverings on their website.

People are urged to share their stories of how connecting with nature has helped improve their mental health and wellbeing.

From 10th-16th May, people are also encouraged to take part by:

  • Experiencing nature: acknowledge and nurture your connection with nature throughout the week. Notice and celebrate the nature you encounter in your daily life.
  • Sharing nature: take photos, videos or sound recordings of nature and share these online with the hashtags #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek to help inspire others.
  • Talking about nature: visit the Mental Health Foundation’s website and use their tips and dedicated resources and research to help start a conversation about connecting with nature within your family, school, workplace or community.

Raising awareness is vital because, despite the evidence, many of us are still not regularly connecting with or benefitting from nature.

The Mental Health Foundation says that around 13% of UK households have no access to a garden, but that nature should not be a luxury and should instead be seen as a basic resource for everyone to enjoy.

They’ve also highlighted how teenagers as a peer group are least likely to be connected with nature.

Key aims for Mental Health Awareness Week

The charity has outlined two clear aims for Mental Health Awareness Week 2021:

  1. To inspire more people to connect with nature in new ways, and to take notice of the positive impact this has on their mental health.
  2. To convince decision-makers at all levels that access to and quality of nature is a mental health and social justice issue, as well as an environmental one.

A new Environment Bill is due to go through the UK Parliament this year and is poised to shape our natural world for future generations. The UK is also set to host the G7 nations as they discuss creating a greener future among their key priorities, while Glasgow will play host to the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

The message from the Mental Health Foundation is clear; there has never been a more crucial time to understand the link between nature and our mental health.

Free online Mental Health seminar

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider delivering a wide and diverse range of training courses.

They can provide training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, safeguarding, mental health, health and social care and other specialist subjects.

Their specialist mental health training range includes Understanding Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace, Managing Stress, Anxiety Awareness, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide externally accredited trainers to deliver Mental Health First Aid England training courses, including Adult, Youth, Champion and Lite versions.

FRT are holding a free Mental Health Awareness seminar on Thursday 13th May to mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2021. Held via webinar, the live online seminar will take place from 1-3pm on Thursday and is open to both new and existing clients.

The seminar will cover:

  • Mental health myths and facts
  • Types of mental health disorder
  • Attitudes and impacts of mental ill health
  • Supporting people with a mental health problem
  • Further resources and advice

A trainer from FRT says:

“Collectively, our mental health and wellbeing has certainly taken a hit over the last 12 months or so.

“For many people, being able to get outside and connect with nature each day has been a true lifeline and has boosted their mood and sense of wellbeing when they needed it most.

“It’s great that Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 will acknowledge and highlight this, focussing on the significant benefits of nature for our mental health and wellbeing.

“Connecting with and noticing nature is something we can all do to help support and protect our mental health and we must continue to raise awareness of mental health issues and ways we can look after our own mental health and that of others.

“Our free online seminar will look at supporting others as well as building our own emotional resilience.”

For more information about the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Download our free ‘Connect with Nature’ infographic for 5 ways in which you can tap into nature to boost your mental health and wellbeing.

You can also download our free ‘Manage Your Stress’ infographic for simple tips on how to reduce stress and anxiety.

Landmark mental health study reveals rise in loneliness

A landmark mental health study reveals a mixed picture for the UK one year after the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, with more adults experiencing loneliness.

The Mental Health in the Pandemic study, which began shortly before the first national lockdown in March 2020 and has asked questions of the UK public at 10 intervals since, generating around 36,000 responses, shows that the coronavirus crisis has had wide and deep emotional impacts on adults in the UK.

Although the results show that anxiety about the pandemic has become less common one year on, falling from 62% in March 2020 to 42% in February this year, other measures have worsened.

Loneliness has become more common, rising from 1 in 10 of those surveyed in March 2020 to more than 1 in 4 (26%) by February 2021.

Among 18-24-year-olds, this figure almost doubled to 48% of those surveyed. This represents a sharp rise in loneliness among young adults in the UK, with just 16% admitting that they had felt lonely over the previous two weeks in March 2020.

In fact, the study showed that feelings of loneliness among all UK adults had not returned to their pre-lockdown levels at any point over the last 12 months, including when most restrictions were lifted during the summer.

Fewer people also felt that they were coping well with the stress of the pandemic.

The study shows a slow and steady fall in this area, with 73% of UK adults reporting that they felt they were coping well with the stress of the pandemic in April 2020, compared to 64% in February 2021.

The study, conducted in partnership between the Mental Health Foundation and the universities of Cambridge, Swansea, de Montfort Leicester, Strathclyde and Queen’s Belfast, also revealed:

  • Feelings of hopelessness had not altered much. In March 2020, 18% of people surveyed said they had felt hopeless about the Covid-19 pandemic over the previous fortnight. This remained the same in February 2021
  • The number of people experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings in the previous two weeks had risen from 8% in April 2020 to 13% in February 2021. It is not yet clear whether the pandemic will affect suicide rates.
  • Young adults (aged 18-24), full-time students, unemployed people, single parents and those with long-term disabling health problems and pre-existing problems with their mental health were all significantly more likely to feel distressed, across a range of mental health measures, compared with UK adults generally. This was the case both in March 2020 and 12 months on.

Dr Antonis Kousoulis, Director for England and Wales at the Mental Health Foundation, said the study presented a “complex picture” of the UK’s mental health.

She explained:

“Fewer of us are feeling anxious about the pandemic but more of us now feel lonely and ground down by the stress of the past year.

“It is absolutely important to remember that the experience of the past year has not been shared by everyone. We have all been in the same storm, but we have not all been in the same boat. The coronavirus vaccine brings hope. The warmer weather brings smiles. However, for many of us, the next few months – and even years – will remain tough, vulnerable and uncertain.

“We believe this study to be one of the first to have tracked people’s mental health systematically across a pandemic, using nationally representative samples. We hope that it will inform responses to future pandemics, as well as the current one, as it’s not helpful to see Covid-19 as a one-in-a-generation event.”

The findings of the study have been shared with policymakers at the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England and the Governments of Scotland and Wales.

The Mental Health Foundation plans to invest at least £1 million in programmes targeting some of the groups that have been impacted most significantly by the pandemic, including people of colour, single parents and those with long-term health conditions.

Dr Kousoulis explained that identifying the groups most seriously affected by the pandemic was one of the key aims of the mental health study.

She said: “We can now see clearly that among the most seriously affected people are young adults, people who are unemployed and full-time students. In these groups, painful experiences including loneliness, hopelessness and feeling suicidal are much more common.

“This is especially troubling, at a time when unemployment is set to rise. Policymakers must target support at these more vulnerable groups, to help prevent them reaching crisis point.

“We also need to see coordinated action on mental health from across the whole of Government, with a formal requirement for it to consider the mental health impacts of all policies it develops. This has never been more important than it is now.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider delivering a wide and diverse range of training courses.

They can provide training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, safeguarding, mental health, health and social care and other specialist subjects.

Their specialist mental health training range includes Understanding Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace, Managing Stress, Anxiety Awareness, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide externally accredited trainers to deliver Mental Health First Aid England training courses, including Adult, Youth, Champion and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says: “By now, I think most people are aware that we are looking at a mental health epidemic alongside the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is now more important than ever that good mental health support is available for those who need it and that everyone has an awareness of mental health issues, how to support others and how to look after their own mental health.”

For more information about the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Survey reveals impact of coronavirus on UK children

A new survey capturing the experiences of children and young people during the pandemic has revealed many have faced mental health challenges over the past year.

Conducted by Survation for Newsround, the survey asked over 2,000 6–16-year-olds from all across the UK about their experiences during 2020-21, questioning them about a range of issues, from remote learning to what is most important to them and who their role models are.

Newsround found that almost half of children surveyed felt “worse than usual” during lockdown.

When asked how they have felt over the last 12 months, 24% of children said they felt better, while 25% said they felt the same as usual. But for 49% the experience was less positive.

This rose to more than half when focusing on girls (51%) or older children (53%) specifically.

Almost 6 in 10 (57%) of the young people surveyed also said they felt they had done less exercise than normal during the pandemic and resulting local and national lockdowns in the UK.

Newsround says these findings reflect the concerns of many parents, charities and politicians who have said that missing school and not being able to see their friends has taken a significant toll on the mental health and wellbeing of young people.

Family comes first

The vast majority (98%) of young people said that seeing family and friends was important to them, with 7 in 10 girls classing it as “very important”.

More than 9 in 10 (93%) also said that health was important to them, while two thirds said that money was important with three-quarters of 13–16-year-olds confirming this.

When asked to rank the top three issues that were of most importance to them, the answers most likely to feature in childrens’ top three were:

  • Family health (64%)
  • Coronavirus (59%)
  • Exams / school work (57%)
  • Having enough money (45%)

Family also topped the list of figures that young people most looked up to.

Newsround revealed that nearly 3 in 5 respondents (57%) named their own family members as their number one role model. And, when presented with a list of potential role models to choose from, children were most likely to select the following in their top 3:

  • Family members (85%)
  • Doctors (50%)
  • Celebrities (37%)
  • Nurses (31%)

Missed time with loved ones

When it came to identifying what they had found hardest during the pandemic, more than 9 in 10 young people said they had struggled with missing out on time with friends and extended family members.

Around 1 in 4 children did say they had seen their friends more or the same amount as usual, but 82% said they’d seen their friends less than usual as a result of lockdowns, travel restrictions and a lack of school and activity clubs.

While children were unable to get out and see others, they often also found that home was a more strained place to be. Just under half (46%) said their family had been more stressed than usual during the past year.

Remote learning struggles

Around 13% of children said they had spent some time in school but the vast majority (87%) had been learning remotely during lockdown.

Almost 1 in 4 children (23%) were happy about this, and almost a third (30%) didn’t mind either way, but 45% admitted that they were not happy about being away from school.

The survey also showed that children had very different experiences of remote learning. A third said it had been better than usual, while 16% judged it to be about the same. But half said that home schooling was worse than being in school, with girls (52%) and younger children (53%) most likely to be disappointed by their learning experience this year.

There were variances across the country, too, with 38% of London school pupils saying that remote learning was better than being in school in person, compared to 27% of pupils in Scotland.

Some children struggled due to a lack of technical equipment. More than a quarter of children responding to the survey (28%) said they did not have a device to themselves. Some children did not have a device at all (1%) while others had to share it with one or more people (27%).

Despite government schemes in all four nations of the UK to bridge the ‘digital divide’ and provide laptops and tablets to families who needed them, the survey results show that some people still struggled.

In fact, the Learning Foundation education charity has estimated that one million children and young people did not have sufficient access to devices or internet at home.

Catching up on lost time

This may have left some children trailing behind. While more than half (51%) said they felt they were where they should be in their studies, around a quarter (28%) of children said they felt they were behind.

The government are exploring options to help pupils catch up on their school work.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wants to provide children with the “opportunities they deserve to learn and fulfil their potential,” though exact plans are still unclear.

He has also pledged £79 million to improve mental health support for children and young people, both in schools and within the community.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has promised money for additional teachers and school staff and says she wants to ensure that “the impact of lockdown on our young peopled doesn’t turn into a long-term impact they are saddled with for the rest of their lives.”

Her devolved government has announced an extra £139 million to support mental health in both children and adults following the pandemic.

Extra funding has been announced for schools in Northern Ireland, including for activities this summer, while in Wales the government has pledged that its recovery plans will aim to “meet the needs of learners who have been most affected by this period.”

Children need our support

Many school leaders have warned that there is a long way to go to ensure that the most disadvantaged children receive the support they need, while experts also caution that it is important not to overwhelm students.

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, commented:

“It’s really important that we now listen to what children have to say about their experiences over the last year.”

She pledged to make sure the government is “doing everything it can to help children feel happier and positive about the future.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services. Their courses include Safeguarding Children, Understanding Mental Health and Anxiety Awareness.

They can also provide accredited trainers to deliver Youth Mental Health First Aid training, certificated by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England.

A trainer from FRT says: “There are many hidden victims of the pandemic, and it is saddening that measures introduced to keep the nation safe and healthy may have contributed to children experiencing a more difficult time.

“It’s so important that children receive the help and support they need.

“Anyone who works with children and young people should complete appropriate mental health training so that they can spot the early warning signs of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems as we begin to find our way out of this pandemic and out of lockdowns.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Duchess puts spotlight on parental mental health

The Duchess of Cambridge has urged parents to look after their mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a special video message recorded to mark Children’s Mental Health Week, Kate said she knew many parents found it hard to prioritise their own wellbeing, but that it was important “to be the very best versions of ourselves for the children in our care.”

Children’s Mental Health Week was first launched in 2015 by children’s mental health charity Place2Be, of which the Duchess is patron.

Kate has always supported the annual initiative to highlight the importance of children and young people’s mental health, and she filmed the self-video, which was released on Sunday 31st January, to discuss the theme for this year – which is ‘expressing yourself’.

She explained that it was “about finding creative ways in which to share your thoughts, ideas and feelings.”

Kate added: “So whether that’s through photography, through art, through drama, through music or poetry – it’s finding those things that make you feel good about yourself.”

She then moved on to highlight parental mental health issues.

The Duchess said: “And while this is Children’s Mental Health Week there has never been a more important time to talk about parental wellbeing and mental health too.

“Last year you told me just how important this was, that many of us find it hard to prioritise. This is a hugely challenging time for us all so please look after yourself too.

“Find those ways in which to share your thoughts and your feelings or find someone to talk to because we really do need to be the very best versions of ourselves for the children in our care.”

In 2020, the Duchess released the findings of her landmark study on the early years development of children.

It revealed that, while 9 out of 10 respondents agreed that maintaining parental mental health was crucial to supporting the health and happiness of their children, in practice the majority of parents struggled to prioritise their own wellbeing.

Kate recently held a video call with parents where she admitted that parenting during lockdown has left her feeling “exhausted.”

Children’s Mental Health Week runs from 1st-7th February. To kick it off, Place2Be have teamed up with Oak National Academy and Bafta Kids to create a free online assembly celebrating the theme for this year – “Express Yourself.”

The free event starts at 9am on Monday 1st February and will feature a number of famous faces, including Blue Peter’s Lindsey Russell and CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson.

Last year, the NSPCC and a coalition of early years charities launched the Fight for a Fair Start campaign. They urged the government to rebuild health visiting services for children and families, after Covid-19 led to restrictions to the service, meaning many families were cut off from support.

Research shows that 1 in 5 mothers and 1 in 10 fathers experience mental health problems during and after pregnancy. There are concerns that these figures could rise sharply following the pandemic.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider delivering a wide and diverse range of training courses.

They can provide training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, safeguarding, mental health, health and social care and other specialist subjects.

FRT work with hundreds of early years services, schools and other childcare and support groups across the UK, providing them with high quality training to meet EYFS and Ofsted guidelines.

Their training courses for early years include Paediatric First Aid, Risk Assessment for Child Carers and Safeguarding Children.

They also deliver a number of courses specialising in mental health, such as Understanding Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace, Managing Stress, Anxiety Awareness, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide externally accredited trainers to deliver Mental Health First Aid England training courses, including Adult, Youth, Champion and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says: “It’s important that parents, babies and children have appropriate support to protect their mental health and wellbeing during these challenging times to ensure that every child gets the best start possible.”

For more information about the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

1 in 4 frontline doctors seek mental health support

It has been revealed that a quarter of frontline doctors have sought mental health support during the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has published data showing that, after having faced one of the worst public health crises of the modern era, 1 in 4 doctors has sought mental health support – both informal and formal.

Released as part of the RCP’s eighth survey of its fellows and members, the data makes clear the pressures placed on frontline doctors during the Covid-19 crisis.

Of those who reported seeking support for their mental wellbeing, more sought informal mental health support (19%) rather than formal mental health support from their employer, GP or external services (9%).

While over a third (35%) of respondents said they did feel supported, the majority (64%) reported feeling tired or exhausted and almost half (48%) said they felt worried.

Keeping health workers safe should be a priorityThe Covid-19 pandemic in the UK has seen an already stretched NHS workforce placed under immense pressure, with burnout of staff then adding to the challenges faced by the health service. Many frontline health professionals have admitted that their work has negatively impacted their own health and mental wellbeing during the pandemic.

The RCP also found that, while 85% of doctors have received their first dose of a vaccine, only 16% have had two doses and a significant number (58%) are worried about having to wait 12 weeks for their second dose.

The President of the RCP, Professor Andrew Goddard, said that the experience of working in the health service is “pretty awful at the moment.”

He added:

“I am extremely concerned about the mental health of frontline doctors, who may be suffering from burnout and a feeling of not being valued. I’m not sure that before the pandemic many physicians would have contemplated that they might need formal mental health support in their career.

“Staff will be in desperate need of a break and will need specific time away if they’re to be at their best after the pandemic.”

He spoke of a need to address staffing levels in the NHS, explaining: “Doctors have demonstrated remarkable resilience throughout the pandemic, working under the most challenging conditions the NHS has ever faced, but they can’t continue working this way forever.

“Workforce shortages need to be urgently addressed post-pandemic if we’re ever to reduce the immense pressure on NHS staff and ensure that they are prepared and supported to get the NHS back on an even keel.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider.

They work with thousands of organisations from all industry sectors and throughout the UK to deliver a wide and diverse range of training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their range of mental health training courses includes the Level 2 Award in Understanding Mental Health, which is a full day, externally accredited course that includes a course companion manual and provides people with an in-depth understanding of mental health problems, recovery and prevention.

They can also provide courses in Anxiety Awareness, Anxiety and Phobias Awareness, Bipolar Disorder Awareness, Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace, Mental Health Awareness for social care, Managing Your Stress, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

FRT can also provide trainers who are accredited to deliver Mental Health First Aid training courses, including Adult, Youth and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT explains: “The Covid-19 pandemic has left many scars – from medics on the frontline working under immense pressure and witnessing serious suffering and distress, to those who have lost loved ones and those who have struggled with anxiety or feelings of isolation and loneliness during lockdown.

“Now, more than ever, we need awareness, understanding and education about mental health to offer practical and emotional support to those who need it.”

For more information about the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300, or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.