Category Archives: Mental Health

Legal Network Launches Initiative on Mental Health Awareness Week to Rescue Isolated lawyers

A legal support network has launched a dedicated well-being service tailored for lawyers struggling with burnout and poor mental health.

The National Legal Alliance, established to combat loneliness during the pandemic, has unveiled a groundbreaking initiative called métier legal lifestyle protect – which aims to help lawyers navigate strains of solitude and mental health challenges amid the demanding rigors of their profession.

The service, launched alongside Mental Health Awareness Week on 13th May, focuses on holistic health while embracing both mental and physical well-being in one accessible platform.

The organisation is hoping to expand the service to include discounted gym memberships, healthy recipes, and a charity partnership that will encourage lawyers to take care of their minds and bodies.

Andrew Byrne, a qualified solicitor and founder of the National Legal Alliance, said: “The attitude towards mental wellbeing for lawyers is definitely improving compared to how things were when I started practising law almost 30 years ago.

“Back then lawyers probably took themselves too seriously. There was a lot of pressure and not a lot of time for socialising or relaxing. You couldn’t switch off from thinking about cases you were working on.

“Burnout was common, and I even had to take six months off at one point to recover from being so exhausted.

“Mental health wasn’t talked about then but now it is, which is something we want to focus on.

“One thing we have noticed is that there is a lot of isolation, especially for smaller firms. It is healthy to go out and have a laugh with people who know what you’re going through. That’s what we try to achieve.”

Mental health is a big issue for people pursuing a career in law.

In 2021, Law Care shared that 69% of 1700 lawyers questioned had experienced mental health difficulties in the last 12 months, however only 56% of those spoke about it at work.

Similarly, research conducted in 2018 by consulting firm BetterUp found that lawyers ranked highest for loneliness, and a follow up article by the Washington Post shared that 61% of lawyers rank “above average” on the UCLA loneliness scale.

Loneliness in legal professions can be caused by a number of factors including a high workload, not being able to discuss cases and stigma surrounding the job.

The National Legal Alliance, originally the Northern Legal Alliance, was founded during the pandemic to provide support to a network of legal service providers.

Among its array of member benefits, the service extends aid and support in areas such as business development, marketing, networking, and more.

Mick Eardley, Sales and Marketing Director, said: “When COVID came about, it was suddenly really obvious how important your personal network was. We wanted contact with the people we were close to.

“I really struggled. I didn’t realise how important going to work, or having lunch with a client, or going to an event was until it stopped.

“It felt like my whole framework, my whole routine, had been ripped away from me.”

The group later opened up to law firms, giving them discounted access to a network of providers, community lunches, conferences, and more.

The Alliance has grown since its inception in 2020 to include over 40 law firms, whose members meet regularly across the country to help them step away from their desks, build friendships and network.

Mick added: “We’ve found lawyers often socialise within their business, but they very rarely get outside of that.

“That’s why our lunch events are popular. People can get out of the office and something comes of those conversations.”

The organisation has also recently partnered with legalCadre which helps law firms develop people focused strategies that enhance culture, engagement, and wellbeing.

Jane Gilchrist, director of legalCadre, said: “When your employees feel valued, included, recognised, and supported, they are motivated and productive.

“Creating a positive work environment creates a positive impact on connection, collaboration, engagement and wellbeing which in turn has a positive impact on how they interact with clients, and ultimately improves results.”

‘Mum on a mission’ boosts compassion at work after devastating loss

A mum who was told to ‘just crack on’ by bosses the day her former partner died is spearheading moves to improve bereavement support at work.

Emma Tomes, 42, has dubbed herself ‘a mum on a mission’ to drive the message home that empathy and compassion should be uppermost in employers’ minds when employees are hit by the loss of loved ones.

Emma’s former partner and dad to her son, then aged 12, died by suicide, aged 31, in 2010. She was called to Poole Hospital where he was taken before he died.

‘Take today off as holiday, just come in and crack on tomorrow’

When Emma, of Bournemouth, Dorset, contacted her then manager, they said she should take that day as holiday, to ‘just crack on’ by coming back to work the next day.

Emma said: “It’s all a blur but I do remember being badly affected by my manager’s words. In the midst of such enormous trauma, I was left reeling at how anyone could be so insensitive. They could have shown so much more care.

“I went back to work the next day as requested, as I couldn’t afford to lose my job and looking back, I didn’t feel resentment or anger at the time, it was all too much to take in, but since then I have channelled anger that has grown into a commitment to ensure other managers can do things right and say helpful things.

‘Go Get Some Resilience’ is not a helpful approach

“Later, at work I was also told I had too much emotional baggage and that I should just go get some resilience – this was when my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer and my mother-in-law diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

“Sadly, I know my experience isn’t that rare, even all these years later.

“Research by the Centre for Mental Health shows that one in six UK employees suffer depression and/or anxiety each year – both of which are a prevalent result of grief. Studies from The Health and Safety Executive have also revealed that some £35 billion is lost by UK companies due to employees’ emotional health problems.

“That’s why I am on a mission to support companies and organisations who care for their employees to not just find the right words at such a crucial period at the height of grief, but also to establish meaningful ways to genuinely be there for people.

“We all know that employees who feel supported and valued are more satisfied and productive at work and there is no more urgent time to be there for them than when they are grieving.”

Employers can learn to better support employees through loss

Emma’s experience drove her on to take voluntary redundancy from her job as a learning and development consultant and retrain as a coach to help people suffering from emotional health difficulties, often also caused by grief. Four years on, she is now leading a team of other freelance trainers, coaches, and counsellors as The Mental Health People.

She said: “Lots of people we work with have told us they have struggled at work after bereavement, HR teams have explained that loss can often be the catalyst for grievances and tribunals and managers themselves don’t feel confident or comfortable in knowing what to do when the worst happens.

“I have now collaborated with my team at The Mental Health people to provide a meaningful course for managers’ training that can really make a difference.

Mental Health Support: Good For Employees, Good for the Bottom Line

“We need managers to embrace compassion and support in a way that means their colleagues don’t have to suffer even more when they are already coping in what can already be extreme circumstances, we need the founders and directors to invest in their workforce and we need greater understanding of how debilitating grief can be.

“For those thinking more about their bottom line than their employees’ wellbeing, they should be assured that a study by Deloitte found that for every £1 invested in mental health support in the workplace, there is an average return of £5 in improved productivity and reduced absenteeism.”

You can find out more about Emma’s work at https://mentalhealthpeople.com/training-course/mental-health-training-for-managers

Need a wellbeing boost you can spark all by yourself?

Emma offers the following tips – ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week, which starts on Monday, May 13.

  1. Step away from the keyboard and switch off that smartphone: Find a healthy balance with technology. Set boundaries around screen time, especially social media, and use apps that promote relaxation and mental clarity, like meditation or gratitude journals.
  2. Unleash your crafty imagination Explore art therapy as a means of self-expression. Engage in painting, sketching, or collage-making to process emotions and rediscover creative passions.
  3. Tantalise your tastebuds: Experiment with cooking or baking new dishes that excite your palate. Use cooking as a form of self-care and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of preparing nutritious meals.
  4. Step into new friendships: Foster connections with like-minded people through virtual meetups or local community groups. Share experiences, support each other, and build meaningful relationships.
  5. Find time to reflect through journalling: Dedicate time to journaling as a tool for self-reflection. Write about your thoughts, feelings, and aspirations to gain clarity and cultivate self-awareness.
  6. Delve into podcasts: Listen to podcasts that cover topics like health, self-care, and personal growth. Engaging with empowering content can uplift your spirits and inspire positive change.
  7. Go outdoors: Plan outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, or gardening. Spending time in nature has profound benefits for mental health, promoting relaxation and reducing stress.
  8. Laugh your socks off: Embrace laughter therapy through comedy shows, funny movies, or laughter yoga. Laughter is a natural mood lifter and can strengthen emotional resilience. Will Ferrell, Sarah Millican, and the much-missed Robin Williams can be your new best friends.

For more information, please contact Emma: Emma@mentalhealthpeople.com or call her on 07969 579108

Navigating stress and burnout in Operational Research

April is Stress Awareness month, an annual event organised by the non-profit organisation Stress Management Society to increase public awareness about stress, often seen as a modern-day epidemic.  In this article we explore the rise of stress in the workplace and offer tips for how organisations can support staff dealing with stress and burnout.

A global report[i] last year suggested that stress and burnout are the greatest risk facing organisations in 2024. The Workforce Resilience Council’s international SOS’ latest annual risk outlook highlighted that 80% of senior risk professionals predict that burnout will have a significant impact on employees this year.

In January, the chief executive of the charity, Mental Health UK, Brian Dow warned the UK risks becoming a “burnt-out nation” with a “worrying number of people” taking time off due to poor mental health caused by stress[ii].

 

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)[iii] , 1.8 million workers suffered from work-related ill health in 2022/23, with about half of the cases down to stress, depression or anxiety. What’s more, stress comes at a major cost for businesses –  a report by Deloitte[iv] in 2021 estimated the annual cost of poor mental health to UK employers has increased by 25% since 2019, up to £56 billion per year.

 

Stress levels in Operational Research

Stress can place immense demands on employees’ physical and mental health and affect their behaviour, performance and relationships with colleagues and, in the field of operational research, professionals have the propensity to suffer stress.  In Operational Research, people are working at a high academic level solving complex issues.  The demands of modelling, optimisation, and simulation, combined with the need to stay abreast of industry advancements, can create an intense work environment. Tight deadlines, high expectations, and the responsibility of providing actionable insights for real-world challenges contribute to the pressure cooker that OR professionals often find themselves in.

Additionally, the nature of the job, which involves intricate mathematical work and addressing multifaceted problems, can lead to mental fatigue and exhaustion over time. Burnout not only affects individuals but can also hamper overall team dynamics and the quality of output. Therefore, organisations need to ensure they have robust strategies and processes in place to mitigate the risks of stress and burnout.

 

Navigating stress and burnout in the OR world

 Stress is something most people feel at one time or another when dealing with the challenges of life. The NHS[v] highlights that during periods of stress the body releases a hormone called adrenaline (often called the “fight or flight” hormone), which usually gives people a boost or motivates them to act quickly. While sometimes this can enhance a person’s performance, it can be damaging if stressful periods become the normality.

 

What are the signs of stress to look out for? 

 The HSE[vi] highlights that if employees acting differently, it can indicate they are stressed. The signs for managers to look for in teams include arguments at work; higher staff turnover; more sickness absence; decreased performance and more complaints and grievances. Other signs are a change in how someone thinks or feels such as mood swings; being withdrawn; loss of motivation, commitment and confidence; and increased emotional reactions such as being more tearful, sensitive or aggressive.

 

Emma Capper, UK Wellbeing Leader at employee benefits firm, Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing said, “The key is being able to spot these signs and put the right interventions in place early is essential to preventing issues from escalating. Most jobs involve some level of stress, but when the impacts are compounded by lack of support and resources, tight deadlines and long hours, burnout can be the result.”

 

Tips for managing stress and burnout in the workplace:

 Howden has put together a free guide for tackling employee stress and burnout, which organisations can download by visiting: www.howdengroup.com/uk-en/employee-burnout. Here are some of the top actions they suggest:

 

  1. Invest in line manager training– managers are the first line of defence and training them to spot the early signs of stress is imperative.
  2. Speak to the affected employee – find out more about the reasons behind stress and burnout. It could be related to the workplace (volumes, pressures, and prioritisation), home life (having young children or caring for an elderly relative) or something else. A good understanding of the issues means that line managers, HR or employers can help.
  3. Train mental health first aiders– these are dedicated people within the organisation who employees can go to for practical support and advice.
  4. Introduce Wellbeing Action Plans– when a mental health condition is identified set up a plan. This tool allows line managers to help employees – and employees to help themselves.
  5. Offer flexible working – Making reasonable adjustments at work for an employee suffering with their mental health is important and employees have a legal right to ask for changes to be made to their job or workplace. Hybrid, part-time, flexi-time or condensed hours may support a better work-life balance.
  6. Use free resources– there is a wealth of information readily available. For example, the mental health charity, Mind has free resources which can be shared with managers and employees, including guidance for managers on how to support staff experiencing a mental health problem.
  7. Mind and body sessions– introduce sessions on mindfulness, massages or stress management techniques, plus encourage exercise which is a great stress reliever. Discounted gym membership or suggesting activities such as lunchtime walks or company-wide fitness challenges to support teamwork and collaboration are a great idea. Line Managers could also adopt walking 1-2-1s as a way of supporting physical activity whilst checking in with employees.
  8. Check and promote what’s already available– Critical Illness, Private Medical and Group Income Protection policies often offer a range of services that provide mental health support for employees when they need it most. Most also offer Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) which are designed to support the physical, mental and financial wellbeing of employees, that include telephone and often face-to-face counselling.

 

In embracing Stress Awareness Month, organisations can take proactive steps towards fostering healthier work environments. By initiating conversations, implementing supportive measures, and utilising available resources, companies can pave the way for enhanced well-being and productivity. Let’s turn Stress Awareness Month into a catalyst for meaningful change in how we address stress and burnout in the workplace.

For more information on Stress Awareness Month, visit: www.stress.org.uk/national-stress-awareness-month.

References

[i] https://www.strategic-risk-global.com/people-risk/burnout-is-the-greatest-risk-facing-organisations-in-2024-how-to-tackle-it/

[ii] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2024/jan/22/mental-health-uk-burnt-out-nation#:~:text=Mental%20Health%20UK’s%20chief%20executive,are%20complex%2C%E2%80%9D%20he%20added.

[iii] https://press.hse.gov.uk/2023/11/22/hse-publishes-annual-work-related-ill-health-and-injury-statistics-for-2022-23/

[iv] https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/consulting/articles/mental-health-and-employers-the-case-for-investment.html

[v] https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/mental-health-issues/stress/

[vi] https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/signs.htm

Major Study Reveals Skills Children Need to Navigate an Uncertain Future

Parents value ‘soft skills’ over ‘hard skills’ to future-proof their children’s wellbeing, new research reveals.

  • 38% cited resilience and the ability to cope through change as most important
  • 38% are most concerned with their children developing interpersonal and social skills 
  • Only 29% listed maths and data analysis as a key skill
  • Working parents aged 55+ believe resilience and the ability to cope is most valuable (49%), while parents aged 18-34 place most emphasis on imagination, creativity and problem solving (32%)

A survey of over 3,000 working parents has revealed that in a world of rapidly evolving technology and AI, parents want their children to develop life skills over those that are technical or academic.

The findings formed part of Bright Horizons’ UK annual Modern Families Index survey and found that parents today are acutely aware they are preparing their children for an unpredictable future – and a world of jobs that don’t yet exist.

To counter these growing concerns and fears for their children’s mental health, parents are placing greater importance on life skills such as resilience and ability to cope – above technical skills such as maths and IT.

 

One parent quoted in the report revealed: “Having interpersonal skills and resilience helps her to understand when she should say no to something. She will live in a world where no one will ever be able to switch off. She needs to be able to create boundaries and show her worth at work so as to not be overlooked by AI.”

Rather than simply preparing for school or for a specific career path, parents recognise their children need to be prepared for life, with the confidence and motivation to flourish, whatever the circumstances.

 

Caroline Wright, Director of Early Childhood at Bright Horizons UK commented: “These findings amplify the importance of the uniquely holistic educational approach practised in our nurseries. There is a rapidly growing need for parents to feel their child’s emotional development is being supported as they mature, so by introducing the concept of positive mental health from an early age, we can help children feel safe and secure and be open to learning. 

“Our Nurture ApproachTM places equal emphasis on children’s emotional wellbeing, as well as practical and academic skills, and this provides the foundations for children to reach their full potential – preparing them for life in an ever-changing world.” 

 

Further data shows parents seek support and guidance through their employers on developing children’s emotional and interpersonal skills in their parenting. This is evident through those utilising Bright Horizons’ Work+Family Solutions ‘Speak to an Expert’ service. Almost half of employees using the provision were seeking advice on young people’s resilience, wellbeing and helping their children manage emotions.

 

 

About Bright Horizons 

In our nurseries, the Bright Horizons Nurture Approach recognises the individual needs of each child, and focuses on promoting confidence, wellbeing and a genuine love for learning. Based on extensive pedagogical theory and the latest neuroscientific research, our approach is based on the premise that emotional resilience and wellbeing is just as important as other early childhood foundational skills, such as counting and literacy. It also focuses on the significance of the adult role as educators, and the importance of secure attachments between children, families and the key person.

Bright Horizons Work+Family Solutions provides best in class practical, wellbeing and developmental solutions, supporting employers and employees with the holistic combination of work and family. With over 400 clients in the UK, and more than 1,300 globally, the company provides a full range of supports and acts as a trusted partner, provider, and advisor on employer strategies to meet companies’ objectives. This plays a key part in attracting, engaging, and retaining talented people for their clients and the bespoke services address the practical, wellbeing and cultural needs of organisations and individuals.

Mental Wellbeing Improves Among Young People in Wales

MORE than 800 young people across 29 schools in Wales have reported improved mental health after completing the Flourish Project, sponsored by the Edenstone Foundation.

Flourish is a Proton Foundation project designed to improve mental and emotional wellbeing, self-esteem and resilience amongst nine to 16-year-olds over the course of eight one-hour sessions.

A three-year partnership between the Proton Foundation and the Edenstone Foundation has seen 29 schools receive training and support through the Flourish programme.

Chris Edge, from the Edenstone Foundation, said: “We’re proud to have been able to partner with the Proton Foundation to enable the delivery of its Flourish programme in schools across Wales over the last three years. Together we’ve supported hundreds of young people develop crucial life skills that will help with their long-term self-esteem, mental health and happiness. The feedback has been fantastic with an average improvement of 14.86% in mental wellbeing, self-esteem and happiness across the schools and some heart-warming stories about the difference it’s made to young people’s lives.  Having already provided around £70,000 in funding, we’re exploring how we can continue to support the invaluable work of the Flourish programme.”

One teacher described the scheme as “worthwhile”, explaining how it had empowered a child to tell staff about their home situation and for a care plan to be put in place as their parents had separated, and their mum had been admitted to rehab for drug abuse.

Over the three years quantitative and qualitative data was collated. It showed an average improvement of 17.14% in mental wellbeing, a 14.04% increase in self-esteem and 13.42% increase in happiness.

Flourish Project manager Philip Mann said: “Schools play a crucial part in helping to promote positive mental health and self-esteem in their pupils for them to reach their full potential and succeed in the future. With the support of the Edenstone Foundation we have been able to be a part of the solution in helping schools support their pupils.”

Wales represents 64.41% of Flourish’s charitable activities, due to their key partnership with the Edenstone Foundation.

More than 800 young people have been through the programme with support from the Edenstone Foundation.

The 14 schools supported through the programme with Edenstone Foundation funding in 2023 were Oystermouth Primary School, Blaenavon Heritage VC School, Gorseinon Primary, St Gabriels Primary, Cyfarthfa High School, King Henry VIII School, Cwmbach CiW Primary School, Lansdowne Primary School, The Pear Tree Foundation, Alderman Davies CiW School, All Saints School, Willowtown Primary School, Our Lady of the Angels, Islwyn High School.

One teacher said: “They all really enjoyed the programme, especially when we exchanged the cards of awesomeness. One of the parents approached me recently to say how she had thought it was a fantastic idea and how much her daughter enjoyed reading all the positive comments that had been written for her and how much more confident she has become within herself. The feedback from the pupils themselves was also very positive.”

The programme was referenced in a recent Estyn Inspection report for Ystrad Mynach Primary School. It said: “The school’s Flourish programme encourages pupils to believe in themselves, and to promote positive thinking and self-esteem. Flourish enables pupils to realise their full potential. It gives the pupils tools and techniques to equip and empower themselves to believe that they can dream big dreams.”

One young person who took part in the programme said: “It’s helped me to develop more confidence and to understand my worth.”

The Edenstone Foundation funding for the project is fuelled by the sale of new homes by the Edenstone Group’s two housing brands – Edenstone Homes and Bluebell Homes. It receives a proportion of the proceeds from every home the Groups sells to support good causes.

To find about more the Flourish Project see https://protonfoundation.com/flourish-project.

April is Stress Awareness Month

With 17.1 million working days lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2022/23, WorkNest experts explain how to manage an employee who is off for work-related stress and urges employers to prioritise mental health in the workplace

April is Stress Awareness Month and with stress, depression and anxiety accounting for almost half of all work-related ill-health cases (49%), it is clear that effective strategies for dealing with workplace stress are urgently needed.

WorkNest, the employment law and HR specialists who support 40,000 organisations across the UK, handled an average of 3,000 sickness absence related enquiries every month in the past year. In line with the HSE’s statistics, it calculates that around half of these cases are specific to employees suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. A particular area of concern for employers is how much contact to maintain with an employee who is off with work-related stress.

Keeping in touch  

Whilst there is no law to prevent an employer contacting an employee who is off work due to stress, employers are understandably apprehensive about exacerbating what can already be a sensitive situation. Furthermore, there is legislation which can be relevant when managing an employee who is absent because of stress, such as the Equality Act and the Health and Safety at Work Act.

For employers who find themselves in such potentially challenging scenarios, Lesley Rennie, Employment Solicitor at WorkNest, has the following advice to enable businesses to support their employees, whilst meeting their legal duties:

  1. Ensure policies and procedures on managing sick leave are up-to-date and are communicated to all employees
  2. Maintain a reasonable amount of regular contact with the absent employee to demonstrate concern and gather updates on their health status
  3. Strike the right balance of communication and review this regularly in partnership with the employee
  4. Request medical documentation from the employee to verify extended sickness absence and better understand their situation
  5. Conduct a return-to-work interview to discuss the reasons behind the absence and offer support if needed
  6. Consider workplace adjustments to facilitate a smooth transition back to work such as shorter hours or flexible working

Prevention is better than cure

With 17.1 million working days lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2022/23, the experts at WorkNest are urging employers to emphasise wellbeing in the workplace to help prevent their employees from being signed off for stress in the first place.

Susan Doran, Health and Safety Consultant at WorkNest, says:

“We really need a shift in mindset to focus on a broader sense of health in the workplace, not just occupational diseases and safety. We would encourage employers to apply the same urgency to mental health in the workplace as they do to accident reduction.

“Health and safety legislation has traditionally emphasised an employer’s obligations in regard to safety but we have seen a notable shift towards protecting overall health with the Health and Safety Executive spotlighting mental ill-health in its 10 year strategy. We may therefore see a clamp down on employers who neglect how their workplace environment is contributing to poor mental health.

“Clearly employers should be cognisant of their legal duty to assess the risk of work-related stress. It is also important however, that they recognise the wider business benefits of creating initiatives and processes centred around individual wellbeing such as increased productivity, decreased absenteeism and a lower staff turnover. Beyond complying with regulations, fostering a mental healthy workplace is not just a legal obligation but a moral imperative.”

Steps to better manage stress in the workplace

The key to dealing with stress is tackling the problem early, as this may reduce the impact on the employee. Susan advises employers to take the following actions to better manage stress in the workplace and ready themselves for the HSE’s renewed focus on mental health.

1. Implement a policy
Implement a comprehensive stress management policy which fosters a collective commitment to identifying, addressing and managing stress in the organisation.

2.  Provide training
Provide training so that managers are able to identify signs of stress in the workplace and equip them with the tools to address stress at the earliest opportunity.

3. Collect data
Collect data on stress-related sick-leave to better understand what factors may be contributing to stress.

4.  Empower managers with Talking Toolkits
Utilise the HSE’ Talking Toolkits designed to help line managers have simple, practical conversations with employees about stress. These are particularly useful for smaller organisations to gather the sort of data that larger organisations may obtain through surveys.

5.   Conduct risk assessments
In instances where an employee has communicated their struggle with stress, it’s imperative for the employer to conduct a risk assessment and promptly implement relevant control measures to provide support. There are various ways stress can be managed, but the HSE Management Standards document outlines 6 key stressors and gives examples of how these stressors can be addressed.

Social and Sustainable Capital invests over £3 million in St Martin of Tours to expand supported living services for adults with mental health needs

Social and Sustainable Capital (SASC), a leading social investment firm dedicated to financing ‘extraordinary’ charities and social enterprises, has committed £3.2 million from its Social and Sustainable Housing Fund (SASH II) to St Martin of Tours, a respected London housing association. This investment will enhance and expand the organisation’s supported living accommodation for adults facing complex mental health needs in Bromley and Streatham, enabling St Martin’s expansion plans across London.

With over 40 years of experience, St Martin of Tours specialises in care homes and supported-living services for adults dealing with enduring mental-health challenges. Providing tailored mental healthcare and supported accommodation services, the charity’s highly trained and dedicated staff teams work in partnership with local care teams to assist residents in improving their quality of life and transitioning towards independent living in the community.

The investment includes funding for the acquisition and refurbishment of Oakwood House, a 15-bed supported living service in Bromley, which will become St Martin’s flagship accommodation. At Oakwood House, the charity will deliver personalised support, aiding further recovery, optimising medication, providing psychosocial interventions, and assisting residents to develop the skills needed to move to independent living.

Additional funding will support organisation-wide initiatives, including a transformation plan, improving accommodation standards across the charity’s housing portfolio and contributing to ongoing financial resilience.

Paul Hardisty, Chief Executive Officer of St Martin of Tours, said, “The investment from SASC will be transformative for our organisation, enabling us to expand our accommodation and enhance our services to meet rising demand. Our mission is to be the housing provider of choice across London for individuals recovering from complex mental health illnesses. Through our tailored mental healthcare and supported accommodation services, we want to empower residents to transition towards independent living in the community. This investment allows us to create an additional 15 much needed bedspaces.

Mark Bickford, CEO of SASC, commented, “St Martin of Tours’ mission aligns perfectly with SASC’s commitment to supporting initiatives that have a tangible impact on society. With our investment, they will be able to provide decent, safe, and stable housing for individuals with complex mental health needs, contributing significantly to their journey towards recovery and independence.”

For more information about St Martin of Tours, please visit: St Martin of Tours

To learn more about SASC, please visit: Social and Sustainable Capital

How employers can help staff suffering with conditions like bulimia, anorexia and other eating disorders

Reecord numbers of people are now suffering with eating disorders -and for many it can make going to work incredibly difficult.

Offices and workplaces can be triggering environments – often making it harder for co-workers who might be worried about saying or doing the wrong thing.

Counsellor and author Lynn Crilly, who specialises in helping treat people suffering eating disorders, always encourages her patients to try and return to work when they are well enough.

But she says more education and awareness is needed across many workplaces about how to best support those suffering conditions including bulimia and anorexia.

Lynn, the author of Hope With Eating Disorders,2nd Edition, said: “It is one thing being concerned about someone at work, but quite another knowing what to do about it. Remember that anyone at work has the right to privacy and, regardless of your relationship with them, sharing your concerns with others may breach this confidentiality. If your company has a human resources department, this may well be the best place to take your concerns.

“Whether or not someone in their team shows any signs of an eating disorder, or indeed any other mental illness, employers should feel a responsibility to make their workplace as open and supportive as possible – and that means doing the right thing as well as saying the right thing. Employers, line managers and human resources teams should, if possible, send out a strong signal that their staff’s mental health is valued, and that people can feel confident that raising issues about an eating disorder will be supported in a non-judgemental way and not discriminated against.”

Lynn also believes the rise in the number of people working from home is potentially exacerbating the issue

She explained: “Many might now be suffering in silence, working remotely and away from colleagues who would otherwise be there to provide care and support.

“Although being in a work environment can be a challenge for anyone suffering an eating disorder it is also an opportunity to make that first step towards recovery.

“Working from home can allow a sufferer to hide away and not get the help they need.

And it is harder from a caring and responsible employer to see the signs – and step in.”

 

BREAKOUT How employers can better support staff living with an eating disorder:

Lynn says:

Allowing employees to speak up, to voice ideas, to play a part in the direction of the company will reassure them that what they say matters. If and when in future they need the support of their employer, they will feel more confident that they are likely to get it.

Being a considerate employer, creating opportunities for creating and learning, and encouraging regular one-to-one meetings and mentoring will also help build trust and give employees somewhere to turn and raise concerns if they need to.

If an employer or manager finds out or suspects that an employee has an eating disorder, the crucial first step is to give them the chance to talk honestly and openly in a safe space, and this should continue if they take time off sick. They should ask what their employee needs, such as an extra break or time off for counselling or medical appointments, and make reasonable adjustments to help. It is also important to remember that everyone’s experience of mental health issues is different, and the support provided to employees should – as much as possible – be tailored to that individual’s needs.

It is not an employer’s job to be a therapist to someone in their team. Instead they should provide the individual concerned with access to information which they can use to get the support they need. This may include details of a confidential telephone service or details of one-to-one counselling sessions with a qualified therapist.

Promoting well-being at work:

In addition to providing an open and supportive environment at work, employees – and businesses themselves – will also reap the rewards of a workplace that actively promotes and encourages well-being. From providing strong managerial support to introducing well-being activities such as yoga or meditation, a responsible and caring employee can have a truly positive impact on its team’s mental health and happiness.

As well as looking at the messages that their attitude gives out, employers should also consider how the physical environment of the office may have an impact on those struggling with disordered eating. Are there suggestions or posters that put an undue focus on weight or body image, for example? It is also helpful to think of the culture around eating and lunchtimes. Are colleagues encouraged to eat together or is there an unspoken expectation of eating at desks or not taking a break at all?

And finally creating a working environment that promotes a good work/life balance is absolutely vital for good mental health. Recognising when someone feels overworked, under-valued, lonely or disrespected reflects an employer who cares about their workforce. Promoting discussions about wellbeing and mental health is also important. It shows that these are not taboo subjects and means employees will feel more able to raise their own issues or concerns more quickly.

Whitworth FC champions Mental Health support in grass roots football

Embracing the ethos of mental health awareness, Whitworth FC has made a bold statement by adorning their 1st team kit with the Kelly’s Heroes brand.

Over the last five years the charity logo has become a much-recognised symbol of Mental Health support in the Wellingborough area.  This move gives a timely reminder to players and spectators that support is available for those facing challenges with their mental health.

In addition to the fresh new kit the club has enhanced visibility around the pitch and surrounding grounds with highly visual boards, posters and bar mats and coasters with support information and links, ensuring that help is readily accessible to all who need it.

“As a local grass roots team we have potential to drive this vital service through our local communities whether playing, volunteering or spectating at the club. Mental health is as crucial as physical fitness in achieving peak performance and overall well-being for our youngsters starting out in the game right through to the adults who continue to enjoy their game.” Martin Goodes, Club Chairman of Whitworth FC. “The Kelly’s Heroes logo is a highly visual and recognised mark in Wellingborough and by prominently placing it throughout the club, we aim to ensure our players feel free to talk about their mental health and know where and how they can get any support needed.

The initiative is much more than a visual connection, directly opening up access to counselling, training and support to reduce stigma and promote self-care practices among players, coaches, families and staff.

“Both myself and family and friends have played with the club over the years, the scope for helping and supporting the community through the collaborative work we are doing together is immense.  These kinds of partnerships help us to connect directly to one of the highest risk demographics for Mental Health” said John Hewitt, Founder of Kelly’s Heroes “We’re thankful to Whitworths for steering this conversation and see it as point in an approach for working with grass roots clubs and ensuring we can raise the profile and awareness to players and families.”

To find out more about Kelly’s Heroes, and see how they can work with you to support mental Health in your team, business or community group please contact katie@kellysheroes.org.uk  or visit www.kellysheroes.org.uk

New Benchmarking & Insights report from Howden reveals mental health is the top concern for asset management firms, plus predictions for 2024

Mental health is the biggest concern for asset management firms, according to a new ‘Benchmarking and Insights Report’ from Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing (Howden), and two in three firms offer specific initiatives to support mental health.

Physical wellbeing is of equal importance; however, the report showed that just 35% of firms ranked financial wellbeing as a priority.

The research was conducted with 174 companies within the asset management industry of different sizes – small firms with less than 20 employees; mid-sized firms between 20-99 employees and large firms with 100 plus employees.

Other key findings included:

 

Wellbeing

  • Addressing stress and resilience were pressing concerns across all organisations, and the number one priority in large firms.
  • In mid-sized and small firms, ensuring a good work-life balance is the top priority.
  • Other important wellbeing areas are sleep, ranked third by large firms, along with nutrition, physical inactivity and musculoskeletal issues.

 

Technology

  • 57% of asset management firms do not currently use benefits technology but are considering using it in the future.
  • 16% offer a discounts portal and 16% have a flexible benefits platform.

 

Communications

  • Face-to-face presentations are the top preferred employee benefits communication channel.
  • Most companies lack a dedicated communications budget – which is a missed opportunity to ensure staff fully utilise and appreciate benefits.

 

Private Medical Insurance (PMI) and Risk Benefits

  • All firms offer PMI as standard to all staff; but 72% offer PMI to staff and dependents, reducing employee stress and anxiety related to family healthcare needs.
  • 20% of firms offer both UK and international PMI, which is becoming more common.
  • Majority of firms expect PMI costs to increase by 10%, but the reality is this is expected to increase by 25-30% for a standard renewal.
  • 97% offer life insurance, 86% income protection, but only 28% critical illness cover.

Robbie Weston, Executive Director, Asset Management at Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing said: “Asset management employees are highly skilled and expect high quality benefits.  Our report shows that firms are increasingly aware of their employees’ wellbeing and mental health and the effect it can have on their performance, the culture and the overall employee experience.

“It is also interesting to note that PMI is a standard offering to all employees across firms; however, PMI alone does not provide comprehensive cover in times of need and in times of hardship. Employee benefits, such as critical illness cover and income protection, can play a major role in strengthening benefits packages. Despite this, financial wellbeing seems to be the least important concern, with greater emphasis placed on mental and physical wellbeing.

“It’s good news that more companies offer mental health support. Some though may assume their mental health provision is well catered for by PMI, but this is most often used to treat conditions rather than prevent symptoms. Companies should continue to invest in preventative care and ensure they communicate their benefits effectively to maximise support for staff.”

 

Robbie outlines five key benefit trends for asset management firms in 2024:

  • Mental health is the area of most concern and firms will be looking for solutions in 2024 to continue supporting their staff in this critical area.
  • Increasing numbers will adopt benefits technology to support a better employee experience and increase engagement with their benefits package. This goes hand in hand with improving communications.
  • More firms to offer an International PMI (iPMI) solution to their globally mobile employees. Having both a UK domestic and iPMI solution ensures firms can offer employees the most relevant medical insurance for their requirements.
  • Providing additional support outside of insured medical benefits in key areas such as menopause, mental health and private GPs will be on the rise.
  • Increasingly firms will be looking to provide benefits that “look and feel” like they are provided by larger companies while their employment comes with the advantages of working in a smaller or mid-sized company.

 

Robbie Weston adds: “Employers continue to demonstrate a commitment to providing comprehensive benefits packages to their employees. Our report reveals that asset management firms provide significantly better benefits than many other companies, although smaller firms with lower headcounts, may not offer the same range of benefits and or communicate in the same way as their larger peers.

“Most companies don’t have a communications budget. This could be an area for improvement across the sector as having a dedicated budget for communicating their benefits would help to ensure staff fully utilise and appreciate them. As the war for talent continues, firms are focusing more on the employee experience they offer and the tools they use to communicate the reward and benefit programmes. Without a proactive approach though, firms run the risk of their benefits being their best kept secret.”

 

To read the Benchmarking and Insights report in full, click here.

 

Howden has developed a range of benefits designed specifically for new or growing asset management firms. It includes all the core benefits with the added opportunity to access the market for dental, travel and other benefits. This unique offering gives start-ups the chance to match the benefits provided by their larger competitors.