Impact Provide Mental Health Training For Bedford College

On 1st July, the hottest day of the year so far, Impact were delighted, if not a tad over-heated, to join Bedford College once again for the staff annual conference and training. A warm and wonderful reception from everyone at all three sessions!  Thank you once again for making us feel welcome.

…and a few words from the College

Bedford College was delighted to have Impact join us at our staff conference this year.  Carol and Deanne held lively and open discussions about mental health and shared their personal experiences.  The discussions around peer support helped staff recognise potential mental distress in themselves and in others.  All three sessions were fully booked and received very positive feedback from staff from across all areas of the college.   We look forward to working with Impact again.

Claire Issacs

Advisory Group for Target Depression in the Workplace

On Monday 8th of June the Advisory Group for Target Depression in the Workplace met in Brussels, Belgium. Our Chief Executive, Déanne Clark was kindly invited by one of the most influential figures in the global mental health field, Bill Wilkerson, Executive Chairman, Mental Health International, to attend the group and deliver a brief presentation on:

In addition to enjoying her time in Brussels and sampling rather too much delicious Belgian chocolate – the Advisory Group provided Déanne with exciting and thought provoking discussions on how to tackle this debilitating and avoidable illness in the work place.

Within the comprehensive attendee pack, Déanne found information and introductions to a wide variety of topical issues relating to the Advisory Group’s current and future plans. Importantly, she was delighted to read some real ‘down-to-earth’ facts about this employee epidemic and in particular Bill’s source document Why Depression, Why Business, Why Now.

The ‘Target’ pilot projects are ambitious and inspiring and to be among the people and companies from around the world such as those that make up the group and who have willingly come together to face, challenge and succeed against an illness that can only be described as a ‘mind bully’, was, to say the least for Déanne, humbling, and she admits she came away inspired, enlightened and slightly overwhelmed – in a positive way!

The group’s interest in the Impact Mental Health model of peer support was encouraging, and the interest and the questions about mental health peer support were testament to the work still to be done and the people still to be reached.

In work, out of work, peer support works; Déanne believes our services can play a vital part in complementing other support services, to help shape and create peer-active and supportive work place environments, and she looks forward to continuing the relationship with Bill and the trailblazing advisory group, Target Depression in the Workplace.

Pythagoras, Punctuation and Mental Health Peer Support Training

The BBC has reported today that the Association of Teachers and Lecturers will today debate a call for more support for vulnerable pupils in schools. Mental Health Peer Support training should be part of the debate.

Sadly, it’s not surprising to read the claim from General secretary Dr Mary Bousted that school staff have had to “plug the gaps in social care as best they can”. Blaming “poverty, poor housing, unemployment and financial insecurity” as the obvious targets – targets that are easier to address because frankly, we all know the pressures on our children today run much deeper than these headings, surely?

Proposer Bella Hewes, a special needs teacher from Oxford, said the expertise to support pupils’ mental health was “just not there”.

So, what impact is this having on our teachers and lecturers, many of whom are unprepared, untrained and are grappling daily with the funding and resource cuts in addition to supporting a worrying increase of children presenting with mental ill health?

The BBC reports that only 9% felt they had been given enough training to help them spot the signs of mental illness in pupils, 45% said training had been inadequate and 32% said they had received no training at all.

We all need to play a part in safeguarding the mental well-being of our nation’s children. Expecting Child and Adolescent Mental Health services to pick up the tab as we turn a blind eye is not good enough and no amount of funding from the government for children’s mental health services will rid this illness from our schools. We need to start at the start! Investing in the long-term training of our educational staff in a significant and sustainable way could help to lessen the necessity of clinical intervention for our children later on.

Mental ill health can affect any child and it does not discriminate on age, gender, race or religion and it certainly does not care about stigma, or the cost to our mental health services. It’s here, right now and it’s growing – let’s stop looking the other way and expecting our mental health services to ‘make it all better’. Training our teaching staff to recognise the signs and symptoms of suffering children and introducing new ways to help children help each other in creating positive Mental Health Peer Support Training should be as important as teaching Pythagoras and Punctuation.

£1.25 billion for children’s mental health services – tip of the iceberg?

With 1 in 10 children experiencing a mental disorder (The Office for National Statistics Mental health in children and young people in Great Britain, 2005) this is welcoming news indeed.

However, this shouldn’t steer our attention away from the frightening reality that thousands of suffering adults are still not receiving the support they are entitled to because of relentless cuts to adult mental health services, critically impacting on access, quality and care.

Worryingly, the number of new cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2013/14 was 244,000 (HSE Stress-related and psychological disorders in Great Britain 2014). Add this to those already suffering in and out of work and we are heading for a national epidemic.

Mental ill health related illness is not going away – in fact it is gathering speed because of the cuts to our services and because of the growing stresses and demands from trying to balance work and life pressures.

Pouring £1.25 billion into children’s mental health services is a good start but frankly it has the feel of the Titanic about it. Addressing the needs of over 110,000 children, is simply the tip of a terrifying Iceberg.


Support For Disabled People In Employment

Déanne Clark of Impact Peer Support spoke at The Disability Resource Centre (DRC) for the Employer Academy Workshop today on ‘Supporting local employers to recruit and retain disabled people’ and support for disabled people in employment.

Just to remind ourselves of what classifies as a disability, here is the UK Governments definition of ‘Disability’ as defined by the Equality Act 2010:

A mental health condition is considered a disability if it has a long-term effect on your normal day-to-day activity.

Your condition is ‘long term’ if it lasts, or is likely to last, 12 months.

‘Normal day-to-day activity’ is defined as something you do regularly in a normal day. For example – using a computer, working set times or interacting with people.

You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

Well, that’s the definition, more thoughts on that another time perhaps?

Back to the event which, was superbly organised by Tracy Plunkett, Health & Learning at Work Project Manager for the DRC and with excellent attention to detail, particularly the lovely pastries on the all too tempting breakfast buffet!

In addition to me speaking about Mental Health, Mick Dillon, CEO of the DRC spoke about Physical Disabilities and Christopher Brandom from New Horizons in Luton talked about Learning Disabilities. Each speaker finished by asking the audience to discuss and feedback answers to their questions and it was very interesting to observe the varying understanding from the groups to each disability. Here’s a look at the questions we asked:

Mick, Physical Disability “What are the needs & issues regarding Physical Disability & employment?”

Chris, Learning Disability “When you hear the words Learning Disability, what is your first thought?”

Déanne, Mental Health “How does Mental Health Peer Support benefit employers and employees?”

As you might imagine, the questions raised a lot of interest from the groups and Mick, Chris and I were thrilled to create such animated discussions – that’s how we start to tackle stigma and inequality!

It was a lovely morning and a great opportunity to meet some equally lovely people and talk about Impact Peer Support too – thanks to the Disability Resource Centre.

Public Health England Pledge Occupational Health and Wellbeing Support Services

The UK Government recognise the importance of workplace based health and wellbeing support services and have outlined this stance in the Public Health England Workplace Wellbeing Charter.

public health englandPublic Health England plan to roll out the national standard for the Workplace Wellbeing Charter by March 2015 and work to activate and engage employers of all sizes in all sectors to recognise the return on investment for supporting the health and wellbeing of staff.

See Public Health England Business Plan for 2014-15

Wokplace based health and wellbeing support services are vital for the growth and development of people and business – Impact Peer Support welcomes the Workplace Charter.