Charity and Care sectors do a tremendous job looking after other people, but do they do such a great job of looking after their own staff, especially when it comes to their mental health and wellbeing?
Charity and care workers have some of the most stressful and emotionally challenging jobs imaginable. On any given day, they’ll be dealing with families in crisis, providing end-of-life care and dealing with shocking cases of abuse. Those who work in the back office don’t escape the effects. Fundraisers are under constant pressure to hit targets, communications teams must ensure every campaign is a success and managers often find themselves juggling dwindling resources and growing demand for services.
In the midst of all of this, the needs of the worker can be lost.
It’s incredible how much emotional labour social care workers take on but rarely discuss. We work intimately, often alone, with some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We see, hear and intervene in situations that can be distressing. We witness the realities of abuse, poverty and addiction. Processing the emotional impact of our work takes time and effort.
The shocking statistics...
- 71% of carers have poor physical or mental health.
- 84% of carers felt stressed, 78% felt more anxious and 55% reported that they suffered from depression as a result of working in care.
- 38% of young carers report having a mental health problem, yet only half report receiving additional support.
Stats taken from Mental Health Foundation.
Not enough 'embedded' support
On top of there being no legislation in place for emotional support, care and charity sectors are suffering hugely from a lack of investment into staff mental health and wellbeing. Many care and charity employers may offer support in the form of helplines or counselling but the support is not embedded in the workplace itself and this is where the real problem lies. If support isn't available from within the workplace then workers are much less likely to seek it.
So, how can employers provide sufficient support?
- Mental Health First Aiders - You don't have to hire professionals to support your staff. Any of your current staff can become Mental Health First Aiders with sufficient training, we have 2 Mental Health First Aiders here at iHASCO and they are fantastic. There are many providers of MHFA training out there but MHFA England are the only licensed provider.
- Awareness training - Awareness training is a simple, yet very effective way of spreading awareness of Mental-Ill Health and the signs and symptoms of it. Poor mental health is responsible for around 13% of all sickness days in the UK, yet so many people are unaware of the signs. All staff should be better educated. Did you know that for every £1 invested in mental health and wellbeing, you can expect to see an average of £4.20 in return!
- Stress/wellbeing spaces - Create a Stress Awareness Space, where your employees can share their thoughts and feelings; this can make a HUGE difference to someone who is feeling down or stressed. You could also provide cards and a 'Stress Awareness Wall' for staff to write on, this gives them a chance to put things on paper to share with their colleagues!
- Be approachable - Make sure you make it as clear as possible to all staff that support is always available should they need it. If you - as an employer - don't feel comfortable having those important conversations with your staff, then you could always offer staff the opportunity to become Mental Health First Aiders.
- Get staff eating healthy - A diet that is good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. As an employer, you can offer staff free fruit, vitamins and even healthy lunches every now and then.
Looking for effective awareness training for your workplace? We have a dedicated Mental Health Awareness Course for Care workers! Get started with a free trial today...