Why keep doing the same old same old?

Of course ‘Mental Health’ isn’t such the taboo subject it was but there is still a huge social and self stigma fog to break down.

Back in 2017, the then Prime Minister, Theresa May, commissioned Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer (CEO of Mind) to investigate and report on mental health at work. This resulted in “Thriving at Work” published in October 2017.

Some of the key findings of this report were disturbing:

  • 300,000 lose their jobs each year due to mental ill health – far higher than the incidence of physical health
  • Around 15% of people at work have symptoms

Key recommendations from this report:

  • Produce, implement and communicate positive mental health in the workplace
  • Develop mental health awareness among staff
  • Encourage open conversations about mental health
  • Provide employees with work/life balance options
  • Routinely monitor employee wellbeing

More ambitious ‘enhanced’ standards from this report include:

  • Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting
  • Demonstrate accountability
  • Improve the disclosure process
  • Ensure provision of tailored inhouse mental health support and signposting to clinical help

At the time of this report only 11% of employees discussed a recent mental health problem with their line manager – meaning 89% did not feel able to disclose. In addition at the time of this report in 2017 only 11% of the Top 100 companies disclose their initiatives in their annual reports.

Only 24% of managers in 2017 received some form of training in mental health at work.

4 years later – has anything changed?

That’s what I keep asking myself. On the surface, businesses seem to feel they’ve done all that they can. They’ve usually rolled out MHFA training, assigned some people who’ve done MHFA training as ‘First Aiders’ to their peers who might be struggling. Is that effective? Is it enough?

I don’t think so. Businesses need to think about what their business and staff need to really thrive not just do a tick in the box training exercise with a proven reactive programme like MHFA just because it’s the most well known.

MHFA is an excellent programme for those interested in the subject area. It teaches in-depth information on mental health conditions, legislation and how to support, listen and signpost someone once they have experienced an issue. Devised by Betty Kitchener, a mental health nurse in Australia, and her partner Professor Anthony Jorm. With a global reach, it has become the go to product for businesses to deliver mental health training – but it was not designed for the workplace!

Selecting a unique, accredited programme like I-act, specifically written for the workplace and accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists with over 50 self care tools, guidance on how to build a mentally positive and healthy workplace as well as evaluation and development tools for those doing the training to support others – makes more sense. Cost effective and efficient.

Maybe if more employers choose to build a select menu of options for resilience, wellbeing, and positive mental health for their business and staff – the stats will be much better in another four years.

Or will we continue to kick the can down the road? Businesses are not the same. Why select the same training as your competitors when your business is different? Isn’t it better to lead than follow?

At Jane James’s Consultancy Ltd, we deliver the I-act training for managers and non-managers along with devising bespoke bolt ons to meet staff and business needs. Financial awareness, self-employment, team empowerment, financial awareness, know your purpose, what’s your journey – and many more. Financial awareness for staff is a key point in the new international guidelines ISO45003.

If you want to ensure your business and staff are thriving, why not get in touch to discuss options?

Does mental health, wellbeing and resilience training make a real difference to a business’s bottom line?

Absolutely.  This has been proven time and again in various research reports in delivering added value to bottom lines, brand reputations and staff retention. It’s more relevant and vital to business operations in the Coronavirus/Covid-19 era.

Of course, you have to ensure you implement the right training otherwise the impact made to your bottom line, brand reputation and staff retention could be negative!

I’ve been working in this field for over a decade now.  I’m often asked what course I would recommend.  See the table below for some key features of three training programmes I deliver.

Featurei-actFAA levels 1,2,3MHFA England
Proactive – designed to prevent mental ill healthYesNoNo
Specifically designed for the workplaceYesNoNo
Accredited course for delegatesYesYesNo
Over 50 tools for self- care/building resilienceYesNoNo
Signposting to professional helpYesYesYes
Delivered virtually or classroomYesYesYes
Instructors can deliver nationallyYesYesNo

I’ve been so impressed by i-act’s proactive standpoint of aiming to prevent mental ill health in the workplace, vast array of self-help tools as well as tools to evaluate and develop skills of those delivering first stage support, that after 12 years as a MHFA England Instructor, I will no longer be delivering their products.  

For employers who do like a formal, first aid approach to mental health, the FAA Levels 1, 2 and 3 deliver Ofqual regulated accreditation on the same three adult programmes MHFA England offers – half day awareness, one day champion and two-day first aider.

In this day and age, it’s more important than ever for employers to select the right product for their environment and team.  Having the choice between accredited/non accredited and proactive/reactive training enables them to make this choice confidently and cost effectively.

Doing things differently – Carpe Diem!

When life throws you a curve ball, you can either crumple or run with it.  With the lockdown continuing and people’s strange new life continuing it seemed apt to change person-to-person training to virtual where possible.

 

A little sceptical of how good it could be, I was astonished how well received my first course was.  An informal discussion on coping with lockdown, the new challenges faced, new skills learned.  Working with 16 team members at all levels of management from ISS in London, the conversation, ideas and laughter flowed.  So what was the outcome?  You can see some of their feedback below – and they’ve booked more courses kicking off with the key steps to starting a conversation, managing it if dark thoughts emerge and self care – critical to building resilience

‘Jane is a first class facilitator, she makes each session impactful and enjoyable which is a really difficult balance to achieve, I would wholeheartedly recommend.’ Andy Ingham, National Operations Manager – This is great feedback for me as Andy was the client and is a facilitator himself.

‘Good, not too formal, interactive and encouraged all team to participate throughout.’ Alison

‘I got a lot from the session just by listening.’ Leon

‘Jane was very open, calm and keep the session flowing easily.  Jane felt like one of our team.’ Loraine

‘The information given on the session was perfect and it gave me the knowledge to look for signs and how to deal with difficult conversations especially where personal circumstances are concerned.’ Mark

 

So, if you are presented with an opportunity to do something different – don’t overthink it.  Definitely don’t let self-doubt in.  Tell yourself it will be a great experience and you will learn more about yourself doing it.  What’s the worse that can happen?

 

Courses coming up include:

 

  • It’s Not About The Nail – don’t try to fix what you think is the obvious
  • Create Your role in The Future
  • Creating Empowerment In Your Teams
  • Personal Empowerment

 

From June, the licensed global Mental Health First Aid full Adult course can be run online following MHFAEngland’s intensive collaboration with global partners to develop the new virtual programme.

 

As a Crisis Volunteer with Shout for the past year, I’ve seen how dealing with crisis via text messaging has literally saved lives.  Who would have thought texting could have such a positive impact?  Nancy Lublin the founder of Crisis Text Line in USA helped set-up Give us a Shout in the UK.  Along with HRH Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, Nancy spoke about why she started the text line.

    

 

Using text instead of phone lines enables people to gather their thoughts and reflect on what they are ‘writing’ in their texts.  They can also reflect back later on the empathetic responses from the crisis volunteer.  What Nancy discovered was those in fear of their lives from others could get help without being heard using a phone.  There are now crisis text lines springing up in more countries.  Mobile carriers waive the costs of texting to Shout in the UK so it’s accessible to all.  If you are in trouble – text Shout to 85258.

 

As an Associate Tutor with British Safety Council, many of their  courses including Start the Conversation, Management the Conversation, Train the Facilitator could be delivered online – something they are looking into.

 

We all need to think of how to do things differently.  This could be a fantastic opportunity.  We just need to not let doubt in.

 

Carpe Diem – Seize the day!

 

 

 

 

Happy Reese!

I’ve had a decade plus link to MHFAEngland from it’s early begins of just a handful of staff to the present day.  Gillian, MHFAEngland’s Business Manager and I go back way before this time to the days of the Real Apprentice (an employment programme I ran from 2004-2013).

 

Back in 2015 Gillian and the team at MHFAEngland selected Reese to join them on Growing Talent (www.growing-talent.co.uk) with the potential of an end permanent job in administration with them.

 

Reese had minimal employment experience at the time and pretty low self-belief so it was a really scary time for him.  He flourished and secured the permanent job and has been there since.  It felt good knowing he was processing the certificates of following Growing Talent Associates who completed the MHFA Adult 2 day course as part of their Growing Talent journey.

 

Yesterday, Gillian and I met up for a long overdue catch-up and she told me she had something from Reese – the feature photo.  So great to see him looking happy and confident – four years on.

 

Anyone can change where they are in life through self-belief, determination and support.

 

Doing the right thing or risking a lawsuit? Food for thought?

As a Mental Health Instructor for over 10 years, I am enthused to see the growth towards seeing and respecting mental health in in the same way we see and respect physical health.  Everyone is comfortable enquiring if a cold is better – not quite so comfortable asking how someone is feeling on their return to work after say depression.

 

The internet is full of well intentioned plans and events to raise the bar in talking about mental health and I see more employers supporting events like #MHAW2019 – Mental Health Awareness Week which starts 13 May.  Really great intentions.

 

But is there a risk of being sued under the Equalities Act 2010 and taken to Employment Tribunal?

 

Some of the employers I know allow all staff, regardless of screening to see if they are equipped to listen to someone else’s pain, to be a ‘listening ear’.

 

You don’t know what you are going to hear when you sit down to listen to someone struggling.  It can be an emotive area the listener has strong views on – such as self-harm.  Even if they can listen without judging – are they knowledgeable on how to signpost someone on? do they know how to take care of themselves after listening to someone’s pain?

 

I feel very strongly that we should be talking more openly in every day conversations about all human issues especially mental health.  But I feel just as strongly that we need to train those listeners how to listen, signpost and look after themselves.

 

Why not have a #MHAAT (Mental Health Aware And Trained) badge for trained employees to wear all year – not just one week.  Wouldn’t we make more of an impact and reduce the risk of a challenge under the Equalities Act at Employment Tribunal?

 

What do you think?

New look Growing Talent is open!

To mark our 5th anniversary in February 2019 of our planned one-off pilot in 2014, we have streamlined the framework of Growing Talent.

 

It retains all the core elements including selection without cvs, provisional permanent job offer upfront on selection by an employer, orientation week before going on site, a total of four weeks training in the vacant role and a holistic week during which life skills including personal finance, fitness, nutrition on a budget and qualification as a mental health first aider.  So what has changed? instead of 12 weeks, it’s now six weeks long.  All parts have to be completed.  There is no uncertainty when someone will be employed.

 

This will deliver transparency for employers, participants and those referring them.  Provision has been put in place to enable an extension based on individual circumstances and only by agreement with all parties.  Equally, those going into roles requiring minimum training, such as barista, will be employed after the orientation week and return for the mental health first aider qualification on the holistic week – again, by arrangement.

 

This year we move to a new training venue – etc venues – away from Southwark Cathedral.  As a public venue the facilities at the Cathedral were not appropriate.

 

Those selected by employers – known as Growing Talent Associates – will enjoy a breakfast, choice of lunches, afternoon tea plus unlimited refreshments throughout the day.  This investment should return commitment and focus thereby pushing numbers up of those going into work.

 

Diverse employers took part in 2018 including Ballymore, Connect Plus Services M25, Acuity Services, Portico, MitieTDM, Pertemps, Harris & Hoole, Scotscape, ME Hotel, Firmdale Hotels, Harrow Green & many more.

 

Some great life changing stories lie ahead no doubt………

Growing Talent’s Holistic Week…….

The definition of ‘holistic’ aptly fits what we cover on Growing Talent’s Holistic Week……. Dealing with the mind as well as the body delivers lifelong learning and empowerment.

 

18-23 June inclusive saw our return to Southwark Cathedral for this element of the Growing Talent programme.  We generally start with the two day Mental Health First Aider course which delivers a qualification.  An intense two days of growth in how we see mental health.  This time we were joined by Sirio an employer from Ballymore.  The MHFA is so thick, the guys get a gym workout by default – who needs weights!

 

‘I think it was very informative and raises awareness on the importance of our mental health’

 

‘I felt confident in my knowledge of mental health before the course but I had no idea how to deal with it.  I do now!’

 

After an intense couple of days, we relaxed a little with ‘fun learning’.  In Everyday Finance we cover amongst other things bank accounts, standing orders, direct debit, credit and debit cards, debt management, the power of money, saving and basic investing options – generally how to make the most of our money.

 

‘This workshop made me more penny conscious!’  ‘It made me challenge the way I currently bank’.

 

Just as putting the right petrol in a car is key to it’s efficient running, so is eating/drinking the right things for us humans!  Kate from HBN (Health Bites Nutrition) shared some myth busting knowledge as well as healthy swaps and eating nutritionally on a budget.  The practical was making a healthy pot noodle which the guys reported on the following day as being great and something they would repeat.  Shae even said she might reduce her visits to the chicken shop!!!

 

 

A curve ball on the Holistic Week is always the Art project.  The guys have to agree on which art gallery they will visit – The Tate Modern or The National.  Armed with their project sheet, they pick a piece which ‘speaks to them’.  Either love it or hate it.  They then have to ask a series of questions and bring their completed sheet in the following day.  The purpose of this is to make everyone make use of these free institutions we’re lucky to have in London.  By asking questions whilst looking at exhibitions, it makes appreciation easier and effectively reduces stress levels without even realising it!  Although there was some hesitancy at the start, all the guys enjoyed this exercise…..

 

 

‘It wasn’t something I’d choose to do but it was a new experience.  I enjoyed it.  Art is a tool to de-stress’.

 

‘I haven’t visited an art gallery for years.  I liked this visit and it made we realise my appetite for art is maturing and growing.  I found the drawing exercises therapeutic and will use my drawing kit as an escape from my work life’.

 

Next time you think of grabbing a quick bite at your desk, why not grab a quick bite outside with a pad and pencil.  Just drawing what you see is a great de-stresser, reboots your energy levels and makes you way more productive in the afternoon.  Why not try it?

 

 

Suicide – how do you intervene?

Due to the work I’m honoured to work in on Growing Talent – mentoring unemployed people from all backgrounds into permanent jobs – and Mental Health & Well Being course design and delivery, it isn’t a rare thing to encounter people with suicidal thoughts.

 

There is a growing spotlight on suicide.  Network Rail and the Samaritans have started a joint campaign asking the public to start a conversation with anyone they see in distress at train stations.  An excellent campaign and I strongly believe you cannot make a situation worse by talking.  However, I do feel strongly that some training is needed not only to recognise turning points but also agreeing safe plans and self care.

 

Having been an MHFAEngland instructor for several years, I felt pretty confident in supporting people through their suicidal thoughts.  However, the suicide section on the MHFA format is one 1/2 day and coupled with depression.  Some good knowledge but not in-depth.

 

I’d heard about LivingWorks ASiST (www.livingworks.net) global programme – 2 full days dedicated to suicide intervention which was formed in Canada and is now being delivered globally.

 

Finding organisations that deliver this valuable workshop – and believe me, you do work on it – is not easy.  An internet search found @GrassrootsSP – an amazing organisation based in Brighton.

 

21 and 22 November were intense days in Brighton.  The learning was so much more than expected.  The networking with other delegates was invaluable – learning from each other.

 

I thoroughly recommend this priceless experience.  Which should be part of every school curriculum.  The sooner we start talking about suicide and mental health the easier it will be to save lives.

The Belfast Experience!

My first visit to Belfast – home of Titanic came on 26 July 2017 ready for delivering a MHFALite course the following day.

 

It was a ‘first’ for quiet a few things.  The first time I used the automatic bag drop – with a little help from the assistant!  A great idea but I wasn’t convinced until I saw my case role off the singular baggage carousel at George Best Belfast City Airport – phew, what a relief.

 

The next first was staying in a global brand hotel where the ‘exclusive’ experience I was expecting didn’t come to fruition.  The room was very dark with no central light.  Great if you want to work at the desk with the desk spotlight but not if, like me, preference is to sprawl on the bed with laptop, books, pens etc!  Stuffiness eventually prompted me to check out the air con – which was so noisy.  This was quickly turned off and the small window opened.  Unfortunately this overlooked the metro line and main road!  After deciding to have a cup of tea – I tried fishing the large hair out of the cup – it was a crack!  Unfortunately there were several guests who decided to have a late conversation in the corridor outside my room on the way back from the bar at midnight!!!  It seemed I’d only got to sleep when the alarm clock went off!  Good job I know how to manage stress from the training I deliver on Mental Health First Aid courses!  Breakfast was a vast improvement even if the placemat was stained!

 

MHFA Lite is a three hour course to raise awareness of mental health conditions.  It’s a light touch course.  With a room full of managers from this global financial client, what would their reaction be – did they learn anything?……

 

‘Learning that different conditions manifest themselves in different ways and how having a conversation can help highlight issues’.

‘Coping strategies to suggest to others and use myself.  I have a much better awareness of the different types of mental health problems and most importantly the scale we are all on.’

‘Being mindful of my own well-being.  There is so much help available – I hadn’t realised.  Being aware of changes in others’

‘Even though I’ve done these sort of workshops before, it refreshed and added to my knowledge’

‘Listening unconditionally and being aware of small changes’

‘I feel like I could listen and provide suitable signposting’

‘It’s important to always ask even if only a small change is noticed’

 

As an Instructor it’s always great to see the learning gained from the evaluations – part of which is about the Instructor’s delivery and knowledge!  So what were the thoughts on me….. I’m glad to say a full house of top scores!

 

‘Really really enjoyable course.  Not only excellent from a line manager’s perspective but also for my own personal experience – fantastic trainer’

 

‘Instructor was very informative with lots of examples’

 

‘Very confident Instructor who encouraged participation.  An enjoyable course, well delivered’.

 

‘A straight talking Instructor’

So overall………..

 

‘A very useful course, thank you!’

‘Excellent course – useful inside and outside work’.

 

For me, the last comment is the most important.  Mental Health affects us and those closest to us both at home and work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spreading the knowledge……..

Friday 23 June saw the delivery on the third in a series of MHFALite workshops for a global financial services organisation in London.  Places for a total of 60 people over the three workshops were well received.

 

MHFALite is the 3hour introduction to mental health first aid.  It is a short introduction to a big subject!  The course involves a lot of interaction, films and group work.  Having a table to work from is essential.

 

First potential pressure point – no table in the room!  The organiser had assumed all training rooms had tables in.  Unfortunately this room is used for non-interactive sessions!

 

Good humour was my tool of choice in ensuring the experience for the delegates was not diluted because of this.  Despite this hiccup, there was a lot of sharing experiences, issues at work and even some laughter.

 

A great session.  But what did the delegates think?

 

‘I will be more confident in knowing what to do.  I will also be more vocal when discussion the implementation of company policy in this area with senior management’.

 

‘Jane was authentic – added a real human touch’

 

‘I now have a list of resources handy and will be open minded when having conversations’

 

‘Helpful in identifying initial changes, language to use and addressing stigma’.

 

‘I now know what resources to access’.

 

‘Interesting to learn the link between physical and mental health’.

 

‘Jane was really passionate, pragmatic, realistic and knowledgeable’.

 

‘Really good course.  I would recommend it being made more available’.

 

‘An enormous amount of information to improve the business units approach in this area’.

 

‘One of the things I learnt was it’s ok to not get involved if I don’t feel comfortable’.

 

‘Jane was approachable, encouraging and knowledgable’.

 

‘Great course – wish everyone had the chance to do it’.

 

‘I learnt to focus on the small things – subtle changes – rather than be solution focussed’.

 

‘Brilliant course, well worth the investment in time.  Jane is great – makes this topic very accessible and has a great delivery.’

 

‘I loved the ALGEE framework which is easy to remember.’

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