Mental health is still the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, with 70 million days of work lost each year due to workers suffering from stress, depression, and other mental health conditions (Burt, 2016). As few as 39 per cent of employees surveyed in a report from Business in the Community (BITC) said that they would be honest with their line manager when calling in sick due to stress and anxiety or depression (Business in the Community, 2016).
Line Managers play a crucial role in supporting employees with their wellbeing and with increasing pressures placed on line managers, businesses must respond by providing appropriate training. Toad Hall Nursery Group recognises its responsibility to develop line managers’ skills and capabilities around employee wellbeing.
In addition to in-house training sessions and coaching for line managers, in April 2016, a group of 13 managers from across the business attended a two day mental health first aid training course, run by Minding your Business.
This internationally recognised course, similar to physical First Aid, provides the non-expert with comprehensive knowledge of the signs and symptoms of mental ill-health and the confidence to intervene, both in crisis situations and in general.
Managers at Toad Hall explored the stigma that still exists around mental health problems and gained a far better knowledge and understanding of different mental health conditions.
The intention is not to train our managers to become therapists, but to provide them with knowledge of the first signs and symptoms of a range of mental health problems, and the confidence to intervene when a problem is observed. These managers will also be completing a wellness support review with each of their staff members, providing essential information on employee mental wellbeing and a proactive tool in supporting employees.
A fantastic and pragmatic handbook is included in the course, which are now in place at the nursery settings where managers have attended the course. This provides the starting point for mental wellbeing resources within the nursery settings and a toolbox of resources to help our line managers promote positive wellbeing in their nursery.
“It’s important to remember that one in four people a year will suffer from a mental health issue at some point, and one in twelve will suffer from depression.” Luciana Berger, the shadow health minister for mental health said recently).
Toad Hall recognises the role that we play as a Company in addressing this challenge, which is also costing the economy an estimated £26bn a year – or £1,000 per employee. Through developing line manager confidence to talk about mental health and ask their staff questions such as ‘you don’t seem yourself, is there anything you would like to talk about?’, and having honest conversations about depression and self–harm, we hope to play our part in improving mental wellbeing for our own staff and encourage other companies to do the same.