A study by the online training provider, High Speed Training, found that more than half (56%) of people who work in education said they’ve suffered with their mental health over the past year.
In addition, almost half (45%) of those surveyed said their work has had a significant impact on their mental health.
Worryingly, 55% of those working in education said they feel concerned about their own mental health and that of their colleagues, even after restrictions are fully lifted.
It seems the issues are widespread across the sector, with almost half (46%) of those working in education saying they are not offered mental health training. Despite this, almost two thirds (63%) said they would take partake in training if it was offered to them.
A quarter (25%) said they would not know how to spot the warning signs in those struggling with mental health and over two fifths (42%) said they wouldn’t know how to approach anyone who is struggling appropriately.
While a Mentalhealth.org study revealed that 13% of UK adults experienced suicidal thoughts in February 2021, rising from 8% in April 2020 at the start of the pandemic.
When it comes to the education sector, a series of lockdowns, sudden school and university closures, and the requirement to communicate with students virtually and provide virtual lessons introduced new pressures employees had never encountered before.
Even pre-pandemic, employees would face intense demands on a daily basis that impacted their mental health. In fact, a report in February 2020 by UCL found one in every 20 teachers suffered from a mental illness.
Richard Anderson, education industry expert at High Speed Training commented: ‘It’s extremely worrying to see how many employees in the education sector have really struggled with their mental health during the pandemic, and how many think it will continue to be an issue once restrictions are completely lifted.
‘It’s vital that businesses and industry bodies provide – and cover the cost of – training around mental health awareness so there are dedicated team members for employees to turn to.
‘The first step is providing employees with someone to talk to, who can then provide support and guidance, and escalate issues when required.
‘Our Mental Health Training for Teachers course is specifically tailored around the challenges workers in the education sector regularly face, and provides guidance on how to manage your own mental health, reduce work-related stress and engage in the importance of self-care.’
Richard at High Speed Training provides his top tips for employers and employees around how to talk to colleagues about mental health:
‘Having the conversation is the first step, but remember to do your research before you signpost someone to potential next steps. Use websites like Mind to learn more.’
‘It’s important to point out that this could be a big help to someone who is struggling. If they are reluctant to visit a GP, try offering to accompany them – if they would be comfortable with that. However, don’t take control over the situation – ultimately, it’s their choice.’
‘Think about other points of contact if talking face-to-face isn’t working – some people feel more comfortable talking about mental health over the phone, through text, or through email. You could also choose a situation where you are side-by-side to take the pressure off – for example, talk while you are cooking, driving, or walking.’
‘Allow them to open up at their own pace. These conversations shouldn’t be rushed, so don’t start it if you don’t have time. It might take several discussions before you get to the root of the issue – that’s OK!’
‘Remember to look after yourself too – you can’t help others if you are not well yourself. Ensure that you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and setting boundaries if necessary.’
For more information about High Speed Training’s Mental Health Awareness courses and tips around how to talk about mental health in the workplace click here.
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