We all suffer from anxiety at some time or other, indeed it is a primitive response designed to be helpful at times when you need to focus and perform … yet more and more people are suffering from increased levels of anxiety, which, untreated can lead to stress, depression and other mental health issues. One group of people amongst whom this is becoming more prevalent is young people, specifically between 16 – 25; I have some personal experience of this, with one teenager studying for A levels and one at University. I have witnessed first hand the pressure upon them from a young age to ‘achieve’ – yet without strengthening their resilience if they ‘fail’; the constant pressure from social media to be ‘doing things’ and communicating all the time, yet without building real relationships and helping to create a certain amount of ‘social anxiety’ – a fear of being pushed out of their comfort zone and actually talking to people even when they need to, e.g. doctors, dentists and bank managers!
One of my children (the one at University) has a lovely group of sensible friends that are high achieving, and rarely overdo it with the alcohol (in fact some don’t drink at all). Most made it to the University of their choice, and all come from stable homes… yet around half of them, including my own, have been prescribed with anti-depressant or anti- anxiety tablets (and those are only the ones I know of). In the first term, one of her circle of friends came home with severe debilitating anxiety, and another came home and spiralled so quickly into depression that she tried take her own life, and very nearly succeeded. I’m not going to try to analyse why; as parents, we can always wonder if we could have made them more resilient.
So how can we help them?
It’s very difficult from a distance, I’ve realised that. Most Universities have good Student welfare departments, with plenty of resources including appointments with a Welfare officer; however the young person has to recognise they need help, be confident enough to go to make contact, and actually go to the meetings. One of the proven routes to relieving anxiety /stress from studying / loneliness is to exercise, however if this is not their natural tendency, how can you get them to do this? It’s not like when they’re at home and you can turf them out of bed to walk the dog, with a threat to turn the Wifi off if they don’t! My daughter had said she would like to go to the gym to train, but didn’t have the confidence to go on her own (it made her anxious).
You will be pleased to know I have found a possible answer… a personal trainer. Before you think “that sounds like an expensive option”, read on.
I researched the University’s Sports Centre and found the profiles of their PTs; I picked one that seemed perfect for the job. She mentioned things like ‘building confidence’ and ‘mental health is as important as physical health’, but then I asked my daughter to pick one from the list herself – she picked the same person. I asked the PT to make the initial contact, and before I knew it a consultation was arranged. My daughter couldn’t get out of it, as thankfully, letting people down makes her anxious… anyway, the text I received following the first session was perhaps the most enthusiastic text I’ve ever received! After a few sessions she is now happy to visit the gym on her own several times a week, and schedules a visit particularly during times of stress, eg. heavy bouts of revision. She sees the the PT once a week and receives encouragement, nutritional advice (which she would never take from me) and a new routine so she doesn’t get bored.
So far so good… I consider it money well spent @ £25 per session. I’m hoping it’s going to be cheaper and a lot less painful than any potential ongoing treatment for mental health issues in the long run. I know it’s not the only thing contributing to her improved mental health, but it’s certainly seems to have had the most impact.
Big up personal trainers everywhere, and keep up the good work with young people!
To date there has been some debate about how to translate MHFA training into meaningful interventions in the workplace. It is unanimously agreed that the content of MHFA courses (i.e. training people to recognise and help address issues such as depression, anxiety, self-harm and even suicide) is extremely valuable and important; the difficulty lies in measuring its impact and supporting staff in this role.
IOSH have recently commissioned a study (called MENTOR) in an attempt to shed some light on this subject, and indeed it has found many positive examples of excellent practice, where organisations have put in place supportive strategies and set clear boundaries for their MHFA trained staff. However this is the not always the case, as often some help is needed in the implementation of such a relatively new health / wellbeing programme.
MHFA England has responded by saying that it is encouraged by the latest research, and has committed to do more to offer support to MHFA trained staff by strengthening existing guidance on the boundaries and their role within the workplace.
IOSH is also offering new resources to its members, in the form of guidance notes and tools, along with information sheets for organisations about how to integrate MHFA trained staff into a wider system of support.
So how can we help?
Claire Dalton is a Chartered Member of IOSH and also a MHFA England approved trainer; Live for Work can help you with your MHFA training, and by assisting your organisation to set up a suitable and meaningful support programme –email us for further information:
Our next public MHFA England course is running on the 14th and 15th February in Congleton – click here for details:
The future is brighter with better Mental Health for all!
Claire Dalton, business owner at Live for Work, was lucky enough to be invited to co-deliver the 2 day Mental Health First Aid (England) course for NICE (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) at their London office with their HR Manager Sarah Acton. Claire says:
‘I was thrilled to have the opportunity to help deliver this course to such a discerning audience… the delegates were receptive and supportive throughout, with an obvious interest in this important topic and how Mental Health issues impact all of us. Their HR team have also set up a supportive mechanism for the Mental Health First Aiders which means that this initiative will most likely be successful in its implementation across their 2 sites in London and Manchester, plus a network of Home Workers. I was impressed with the amount of planning and thought that the HR team had put into the course organisation and ongoing support systems for their staff. I was also delighted with some of the comments on the feedback forms….’
“Brilliant course. Excellent content presented effectively and in a way that despite the content material was still light and enjoyable. Very. very good.”
“The course was excellent – very engaging and fast paced, and the two instructors kept the atmosphere in the room friendly and sensitively upbeat even when covering distressing topics. I would highly recommend this course (and the instructors) to colleagues!”
“Absolutely brilliant. Very interesting and taught in a wonderfully interactive way. A great mix of slides, activities, personal experience and very good at including everyone.”
Thanks NICE – I loved working with you too!
Statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that 526,000 workers suffered from work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17, with 12.5m working days lost.
In response to this and the growing need for having trained Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) in the workplace, Live For Work has launched its first course centred around the mental health and well-being of workers.
The MHFA (England) training course is designed to teach people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide help on a first-aid basis.
Live for Work Owner Claire Dalton comments: “It is a legal requirement to manage stress in the workplace; mental health affects most of us in some way, and it’s important that we work to eliminate the stigma around mental health and encourage people to reach out if they are struggling.
“I established Live For Work 12 years ago, initially to provide First Aid training; we then expanded into many areas of health and safety, including offering consultancy services and the IOSH accredited Leading Safely and Managing Safely courses; since doing so, I have noticed the impact that long working hours, increased demands on individuals plus additional pressures at home have had on people’s ability to function both on a personal and professional level. This initially led to my interest in mental health issues; the Mental Health First Aid England course has opened up my eyes to the much broader spectrum of mental health issues that almost everyone will experience at some time in their lives. Just like poor physical health affecting the body, poor mental health will affect the brain and can ultimately cause physiological, behavioural and psychological effects on a person’s well-being that can lead to a whole range of health conditions.
“Our aim is both to raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health; but also, to use our experience and knowledge of working within a wide range of industry sectors to assist organisations to set up a sustainable programme that enables their MH First Aiders to help their workforce. Promotion of well-being in the workplace is known to help reduce absenteeism and, to some extent ‘presenteeism’ (turning up to work but not functioning at full capacity).
“We have chosen to work with MHFA England as this is a recognised and credible brand that offers assistance both to its training providers and people that have attended the course, in the form of useful resources, links, assistance and advice.
“This training course will not only help workers assess and support colleagues and possibly family members and friends who struggle with mental health issues; but it is also designed to help to reduce the impact of absenteeism on businesses and promote focus on well-being at work.
“The course is proving exceptionally popular to date which we hope is indicative of the recognition that this very important and prevalent issue is now receiving.”
On completion, trainees will gain a qualification in Adult Mental Health First Aid, with the certificate issued by Mental Health First Aid (England). Live for Work can also provide ongoing support to organisations and their Mental Health First Aiders to ensure that their presence creates a positive impact.
The MHFA course runs over two days and is split into four parts, including topics such as depression, suicide, substance misuse, anxiety disorders, self-harm, personality disorders, and psychosis; MH First Aiders are trained recognise the signs and symptoms, and follow a proven route to assisting the sufferer and by signposting them on to further help.
Following extensive campaigning by the Anaphylaxis Campaign and other leading organisations, new legislation will come into effect on 1st October 2017 to allow schools, preschools and nurseries to obtain generic Epi-Pens without a prescription, for emergency use on children who are at risk of anaphylaxis but whose own device is not available or not working. The new legislation represents a significant adjustment in the management of children who suffer from severe allergic reactions and it will provide great reassurance to parents, school staff and carers across the UK. Whilst it is not mandatory for schools to hold generic Epi-Pens, those who choose to do so should establish a sufficient policy or protocol for their use in line with statutory guidance and ensure that staff have been adequately trained to operate the devices in an emergency.
With 17% of fatal allergic reactions in school-aged children happening while at school, it is extremely good news that Epi-Pens are now set to have a permanent place within schools across the UK! If you wish to find out more about ‘Generic Pens in Schools’ visit the Anaphylaxis Campaign website
Claire has taken on the unenviable challenge of completing the “Tough Mudder” event that will take place on the 9th September 2017. Billed as “probably the toughest event on the planet”, Tough Mudder is a 12 mile mud and obstacle course designed to test physical strength, stamina, and mental grit. It definitely is not an event for the faint hearted!!
Claire has registered for the event to raise much needed funds for St Luke’s Hospice. Live for Work are fortunate enough to train the Hospice staff in First Aid and we see first hand what an amazing group of staff they are and what great work they do.
Go Claire Go !!