This Week's News 28.09.18

Mental Health Special
to coincide with World Mental Health day on 10th October.

Supporting Apprentices with Mental Health Difficulties

World Mental Health Day is on 10th October 2018. This year's focus is on young people and mental health in a changing world. Mental ill health is now the primary cause of long-term sickness absence for over one in five (22 per cent) UK organisations. A recent Mind survey of over 44,000 employees also found that only two in five (42 per cent) felt their manager would be able to spot the signs they were struggling with poor mental health.

The CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, and Mind have jointly published a revised mental health guide for managers to improve support for those experiencing stress and mental health issues at work.

The updated guidance follows recent CIPD research which found that that less than one in three organisations (32 per cent) train managers to support staff with poor mental health.

This free guide will give people managers the information, resources and tools they need to effectively and confidently support employee mental health at work. Being able to spot the warning signs of poor mental health and offer the right support early on can have a significant impact.

What is Mental Health?

  • Mental health
    We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. How we feel can vary from good mental well-being to difficult feelings and emotions, to severe mental health problems.
  • Mental well-being
    Mental well-being is the ability to cope with the day-to-day stresses of life, work productively, interact positively with others and realise our own potential. When we talk about well-being we are referring to mental well-being.
  • Poor mental health
    Poor mental health is when we are struggling with low mood, stress or anxiety. This might mean we're also coping with feeling restless, confused, short tempered, upset or preoccupied.
  • Mental health problems
    A mental health problem is when difficult experiences or feelings go on for a long time and affect our ability to enjoy and live our lives in the way we want. You might receive a specific diagnosis from your doctor, or just feel more generally that you are experiencing a prolonged period of poor mental health.
  • Common mental health problems
    These include depression, anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). These make up the majority of the problems that lead to one in four people experiencing a mental health problem in any given year. Symptoms can range from the comparatively mild to very severe.
  • Severe mental health problems
    These include less common conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They can have very varied symptoms and affect your everyday life to different degrees. They are generally regarded as severe mental health problems because they often require more complex and/or long-term treatments.
  • Work-related stress
    Work-related stress is defined by the Health and Safety Executive as the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them at work. Stress, including work-related stress, can be a significant cause of illness. It is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other issues such as increased capacity for error.

Mental health conditions, work and the workplace

One in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point. While mental health problems are common, most are mild, tend to be short-term and are normally successfully treated, with medication, by a GP.

Whether work is causing the health issue or aggravating it, employers have a legal responsibility to help their employees. Work-related mental health issues must to be assessed to measure the levels of risk to staff. Where a risk is identified, steps must be taken to remove it or reduce it as far as reasonably practicable.

How mental ill health and work-related stress can go together

Work-related stress and mental health problems often go together and the symptoms can be very similar.

Stress is a reaction to events or experiences in someone's home life, work life or a combination of both. Common mental health problems can have a single cause outside work, for example bereavement, divorce, postnatal depression, a medical condition or a family history of the problem. But people can have these sorts of problems with no obvious causes.

As an employer, you can help manage and prevent stress by improving conditions at work. But you also have a role in making adjustments and helping someone manage a mental health problem at work.

Mental ill health, stress and the Management Standards

Although stress can lead to physical and mental health conditions and can aggravate existing conditions, the good news is that it can be tackled. By taking action to remove or reduce stressors, you can prevent people becoming ill and avoid those with an existing condition becoming less able to control their illness.

HSE's Management Standards approach to tackling work-related stress establishes a framework to help employers tackle work-related stress and, as a result, also reduce the incidence and negative impact of mental ill health.

The Management Standards approach can help employers put processes in place for properly managing work-related stress. By covering six key areas of work design you will be taking steps that will minimise pressure, manage potential stressors and limit the negative impact that the work could have on your employees.

Advice for managers on mental ill health conditions

  • Talking at an early stage
    As a manager, you may have employees who experience mental health difficulties. As soon as you notice that an employee is having difficulties, talk to them – early action can prevent them becoming more unwell.
  • Managers should concentrate on making reasonable adjustments at work, rather than understanding the diagnosis. Their GP, medical support or occupational health should be able to provide guidance on what you can do to help them.

Use routine management tools to identify and tackle problems or needs

  • Use scheduled work meetings, appraisals or informal chats about progress to find out more about any problems an employee may be having.
  • If you have specific concerns about someone's health, talk about these at an early stage. Ask questions in an open, exploratory and non-judgemental way. These conditions affect people differently, so making adjustments to their job could relieve symptoms. You should be positive and supportive while exploring the issues and how you can help.
  • If a person has been off sick, you should discuss their return to work and reintegration into the workplace beforehand. A written plan can help. You both might want to agree when they have reached the stage of 'business as usual'. At this point, you can use existing management processes to review their performance, needs and work plan.

Supporting an employee who is tearful and upset

If an employee gets upset, talk to them, reassure them, and tell them that you will give them all the help and support available. Explain that things will go at a pace that suits them. If you are in a meeting with them, ask if they would like someone else with them.

Try to be sensitive to the level of information the person can cope with. In the middle of a crisis they may not be able to think clearly and take in complex information. Try to stay calm yourself.

A much smaller number of people will experience more severe anxiety or depression. These can be associated with episodes of 'mania', which can include:

  • extreme, heightened activity
  • psychosis
  • loss of touch with reality
  • hallucinations
  • distortion of the senses

In these rare instances, an employee may behave in ways that impact on colleagues or clients and you should keep your responsibilities for all employees in mind.

Take the person to a quiet place and speak to them calmly. Suggest that you could contact a friend or relative or that they go home and contact their GP or a member of their mental health team, if appropriate.

If someone is experiencing hallucinations or mania, they may not take in what you are saying. In this case, they will need immediate medical help. If an employee is disturbing others and refuses to accept help, seek advice from:
- the person's GP
- the NHS – call 111
- or call an ambulance.

This free service from Remploy will help your apprentices overcome any difficulties they are experiencing at work due to low mood, so that they can remain a valuable asset to your company. The service is delivered by advisors who are fully trained professionals with expertise in mental health and its impact in the workplace.

Your apprentice must refer themselves to this service, which includes:

  • Workplace emotional well-being support and advice for six months, tailored to the needs of the apprentice
  • Advice on simple adjustments that could be implemented to help individuals fulfil their apprenticeship
  • Helping you fully understand what support you can offer to apprentices with low mood (with their permission)
  • Help for apprentices to identify successful coping strategies that will support their success
  • A step-by-step support plan for apprentices to follow, helping them to get back on track
  • Support provided in an appropriate environment, in respect of the apprentice's wishes.

To qualify for this service, individuals must:

  • Be in a permanent or temporary apprenticeship (attending or signed off sick)
  • Have a mental health condition that has resulted in absence, or is causing difficulties to remain in their apprenticeship.

How to refer an apprentice

Referring an apprentice to Remploy's service is simple, just contact Remploy and they'll do the rest:
Tel: 0300 456 8210
Email: ku/oc/yolpmer//secitnerppa

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