From education to employment

Promoting Mental Well-being: TQUK Takes Proactive Steps to Support Staff and Foster a Positive Workplace Environment

Katie Orr

Five staff members of Training Qualifications UK underwent Mental Health First Aid training to support colleagues in the workplace. TQUK was the only organization that sent multiple attendees, reflecting their commitment to mental health support.

Since the training, they have provided assistance to individuals seeking support, fostering a culture of understanding and care. TQUK plans to continue raising awareness, sharing resources, and promoting psychological safety. They encourage leaders to invest in mental health training and highlight the impact of such initiatives.

In February of this year, five of TQUK’s staff members undertook a two-day course with Mental Health First Aid England.

The aim: To understand how to support colleagues with their mental health in the workplace.

The outcome: Five qualified Mental Health First Aiders.

I was one of the five who attended that course. We started discussing this late last year as part of our weekly Leadership Team meeting. We recognised the unique and evolving pressures that were being placed on our staff by the cost-of-living crises, world events and other aspects of modern-day life.

What struck me immediately was that of the dozen or so attendees, we were the only organisation that had signed up more than one person. As far as I could tell, I was the only attendee who represented an Executive Team. Our tutor commented on how unusual it was for an organisation to send so many people, regardless of headcount. She said it was usually the case that people had to fight to get support to attend.

The truth was, just the day before, I’d had a conversation with our HR Manager, we were both wondering if we had sent ENOUGH people.

There was never a question that this investment was important enough to warrant the commitment.

Since the training, we have supported five individuals who reached out for support ranging from a general chat to guidance on where to access bereavement support and stress management. I have also found the group themselves to be a source of support when I’m feeling caught in a snowstorm of ‘to dos’ and need a moment of calm: checking in and sharing little anecdotes about our days, as well as rallying around and making suggestions for how to support another individual who has approached us.

People are telling us that it helps. It helps just to know that we are there, even if they don’t reach out. What we are doing, I hope, is contributing to a culture where it’s perfectly fine to have a bad day, to feel low, to be quiet, and to ask for the space or support you need to get to the other side.

We’ve got lots more planned: awareness sessions to deliver, resources to share, and conversations to start and encourage. As a Leadership Team, we continue to work on other ways to help foster psychological safety at TQUK (including training our LT on how to do just that) and celebrate all it is that makes us individuals and not just ‘staff’.

It’s cliché and easy to say that mental health is as important as physical health. It’s a quick win to write a mental health policy or talk about work-life balance in an all-staff meeting. But employers, what are you actually doing to put your money where your mouth is? Employees, do you feel the impact of those words? How comfortable would you feel approaching your manager and explaining that you were struggling to feel motivated?

I’d encourage all leaders to look into the training offered by MHFA England, and if you’re on the fence about signing up, don’t hesitate. If money is tight, there are funded options for qualifications that can increase knowledge and confidence around things like mental health conditions or suicide awareness. For example, The TQUK Level 2 Certificate in Self-Harm and Suicide Awareness qualification consistently appears in our five most popular qualifications each month. A fact I am really proud of. Several of our TQUK staff members have achieved this qualification themselves.

Here’s some links. Browse around, read a few articles, and learn some new terms or how to handle a situation should it arise. If you’re lucky, you’ll never need it. But chances are you will; when you do, you’ll be ready.

Qualifications in Self-Harm and Suicide Prevention and Awareness, and Mental Health.

Mental Health First Aid England where you can access a wealth of resources and look into the MHFA Training.

Samaritans and Mind for a little support with your own mental health or advice on supporting another.

By Katie Orr, Chief Regulatory Officer at Training Qualifications UK.

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