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Why investing in mental health training is a no-brainer

Lottie Galvin, Mental Health First Aider at iHASCO

Mental health is something that we all have (just as we all have physical health). It’s a part of being human. Talking about, as well as managing mental ill-health is finally becoming less of a taboo after being the elephant in the room for far too long.

It’s great to see that we are now part of a society that has a much keener focus on mental health, which is inspiring more honest conversations between people. But why isn’t more being done to address the impact that mental health – good and poor – has in the workplace?

There are some industries in the UK that are more at risk of workplace-induced mental ill health than others, one of these is the care sector.

An industry in need of change

Regardless of your position within the care sector or the particular people under your care, being a carer can be an incredibly rewarding profession and is undoubtedly one of the most important too. After all, each day you go to work, you’re improving the lives of people that need it most.

While the role does offer an array of benefits, the reality is that being a carer is also an immensely demanding job, both physically and emotionally. Workers in the profession have some of the most emotionally challenging jobs imaginable. Caring for vulnerable people means that often carers prioritise other’s mental wellbeing over their own.

Whether it’s due to being overworked, underpaid, or overwhelmed by the responsibility as well as exposure to sickness and death – that commonly comes with the job, care workers operate in an extremely stressful environment. In fact, 84% of carers report that they feel stressed, 78% suffer from anxiety, and 55% report that they have suffered from depression as a result of their work[1].  The heart-breaking reality is that the care sector has a suicide rate that’s almost twice as high as the national average.

In addition, a recent discovery from the GMB Union explains that care workers suffered more than 6,000 violent attacks during the last five years, this is another shocking reminder of why workers in this sector are some of the most prone to mental ill- health.

With this reality before us, it’s time for those in charge to act upon their duty, which is to properly safeguard the mental wellbeing of carers. As part of this process, it’s essential for the responsible organisations to act now in order to make a much-needed difference. But how?

Enforcing positive change: the power of training

Many care organisations are already taking important steps towards acknowledging mental health within the sector and among their staff. However, there is much more that can be done to instil better mental health practices in the UK. A big (yet very simple) first step can be taken by introducing engaging, video-based mental health awareness training into the system – the more engaging this is, the better! With their lengthy working hours, carers can really benefit from flexible, video-based eLearning.

It’s crucial for care organisations to implement frameworks and procedures that will protect the wellbeing of their employees. If the statistics don’t improve (and quickly) how can we expect people to continue pursuing careers in this industry? Mental health training may not provide all the answers, but it does raise awareness it and offer a vital change of perspective. It has the power to transform an organisation by empowering employees to take control of their mental health both at work and at home. Effective eLearning contains engaging content that educates its users on the various types of mental health problems that exist, how to identify and manage poor mental health, how to maintain good mental health, and where to go to for additional help.

By breaking the stigma that surrounds mental health and ensuring that it is spoken about openly and without judgement, the care sector will reap huge rewards now and in the long run. Once carers are empowered to better understand and manage their own mental health, we can expect to see a far happier workforce, which will benefit the lives of many – both carers and patients alike, as well as the loved ones of both!

[1] https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-carers

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