5 ways to build positive mental health

Everyone has mental health – for some, it’s better and for some, it’s worse. Mental health often fluctuates and even those who generally have good mental health can have low moments.

However, there are some things you can do to look after your mental health and build a generally positive state of mental wellbeing.

Use these tips to improve your own mental health or use these as teaching points for children so that we can improve the mental wellbeing of the next generation.

Be mindful

Mindfulness is the ability to focus on the present and can help to build positive mental health by reducing how much we dwell on the past or fret about the future. Not only that, but by improving our mindfulness we can appreciate the present more, become more attentive and improve our self-awareness – all of which contribute to positive mental health.

You can practice mindfulness almost anywhere e.g. while taking a walk, eating, sitting down or during your regular commute!

Kickstart your mindfulness journey with our 6-week mindfulness course that combines humour, sensitivity and true stories to teach you essential mindfulness techniques.

Stay active

Many studies have shown a link between exercise and positive mental health – when your exercise your body releases endorphins that make you feel good. Staying active doesn’t mean that you need to hit the gym every day – a simple stretch in the morning or a stroll at lunch can be enough to get your endorphins going.

Need some healthy living inspiration? Check out these books from TriggerPublishing.

Help others

Helping others is a great way to support positive mental health as it can help you achieve a sense of accomplishment and gain perspective. Often those who are considered more ‘generous’ tend to have positive mental health and strong resilience.

There are plenty of ways you can help others, such as

  • Having a conversation about their worries
  • Raising money or donating to a charitable cause (why not donate to Headucation?)
  • Look out for signs of anxiety or signs that someone is struggling with their own mental health
  • Complete a task with or for someone else
  • Volunteer with a local charity or at a local event
  • Tell your own story. Writing can be cathartic and by telling your story you could be helping someone to feel that they are not alone, that there is hope that things can get better. Our friends over at Cherish Editions provide potential authors with a great platform to do just that.

Learn new skills

Learning new skills keeps your brain stimulated, gives you a new challenge to focus on and leads to a great sense of satisfaction. Those who learn new skills regularly often report better wellbeing and mental health.

You can learn new skills to support your career, take up a new hobby or improve your knowledge of something that you’re interested in.

Not sure where to start? Develop new skills with FlourishZone or improve your mental health knowledge with Shawmind’s online mental health training courses.

Connect with people

Talking to people and forming relationships are some of the best ways you can look after your mental health but for many, it can be daunting to open up to others.

Proximity to family, friends and colleagues makes them some of the most convenient people to connect with but being vulnerable with those we know can often be more difficult than opening up to strangers.

Joining activities like gym classes or social clubs can be a good way to meet new people to build relationships with – or you can visit mental health support groups and drop-in sessions like Shawmind’s Breathe Café if you want to talk with someone impartial.

There will likely be a time in your life when you will struggle with your mental health but by building these habits into your life you will become more resilient and generally have more positive mental health.

At Shawmind, we want to make it easier for you to handle moments of poor mental health by reducing stigma and increasing awareness and support options. Help us do this for the next generation by supporting Headucation – our mission to train teachers in the basics of mental health support.

Donate to our fundraiser or sign up for one of our training courses.

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What is workplace anxiety?

Many of us are likely to feel anxious or stressed at work occasionally, however, if your anxiety is constant or increasingly frequent you’re likely dealing with some degree of workplace anxiety.

It’s the International Week of Happiness at work from 20th to the 24th September 2021 and we want to make sure all workplaces are equipped to be the happiest they can be by tackling workplace anxiety.

What is workplace anxiety?

Workplace anxiety is different to generalised anxiety disorder as it is specifically related to the work environment. While the anxiety doesn’t have to occur in the workplace, workplace anxiety is caused by workplace triggers (e.g. you may feel workplace anxiety the evening before you go to work).

The causes and level of severity are different for each individual but in the most severe instances, workplace anxiety can be debilitating and stop employees from carrying out their duties.

What causes workplace anxiety?

There are many causes of workplace anxiety and the specifics will always vary by each person however some common causes of workplace anxiety include:

  • Workplace bullying or discrimination
  • Minimal or no support from managers
  • Tough working conditions e.g. unsafe environment or long hours
  • Lack of relationships with colleagues
  • Fear of inadequacy or judgement
  • Tight deadlines / overwhelming workload
  • Lack of control over your work

Many people don’t seek help for anxiety soon enough for fear of judgement or because they feel their problem is not severe enough – it’s important to remember that regardless of the cause, your feelings are valid and just as deserving of support as anyone else’s.

What effect does workplace anxiety have?

Anxiety can be debilitating, but what does that mean for the workplace?

When someone is struggling with anxiety they may be less productive e.g. miss deadlines, produce lower quality work, or make mistakes that can be costly to the business.

Anxiety can also manifest itself physically and cause the employee to take more time off which also has financial and productivity implications for businesses – especially small to medium-sized organisations and teams.

Employees struggling with workplace anxiety for a prolonged time can become withdrawn and irritable – negatively impacting company culture and staff morale.

Many who struggle with anxiety, particularly when caused by a lack of confidence or feelings of inadequacy, may make career decisions based on these feelings and miss out on promotions or change their career path altogether.

How to manage workplace anxiety?

1. Look out for signs of anxiety

Knowing the signs of workplace anxiety can help you spot them in yourself and others so that you can make adjustments to your working life before the anxiety becomes more severe.

2. Undergo training on anxiety

Completing some basic training around anxiety can help you learn why it occurs, how to handle it and how to prevent it. Take a look at our self-paced online Understanding Anxiety course.

3. Implement mental health first aiders

Mental health first aiders (MHFA) are one of the best tools an organisation can use to spot, prevent and support those with workplace anxiety. A mental health first aider acts as the first point of contact for any employees who want to discuss their mental health.

As well as being trained to talk to employees who reach out, mental health first aiders are also provided with the training to spot when someone in the business may be struggling with their mental health but not voicing it. This enables the first aider to make the first move and provide support to those employees who are struggling.

A mental health first aider can also help business leaders make their organisations more mental health-friendly e.g. identifying when working arrangements may need to change.

We offer a 2-day Mental Health First Aid Course that can be delivered online via Zoom, or face to face either in one of our settings, or your own workplace.

All funds from our Mental Health First Aid training course goes directly to our Headucation campaign – so by training a mental health first aider in your business, you’ll also be supporting children’s mental health for years to come!

4. Learn how to manage workplace anxiety

The more you can educate yourself and others to manage anxiety, the better the whole workplace can become. While dedicated individuals such as mental health first aiders can suggest support options, the decision to take action always lies with the person suffering from anxiety.

Some ways to self-manage anxiety are:

  • Talk to colleagues
  • Build relationships at work
  • Treat mental and physical health the same
  • Keep notes
  • Make changes to accommodate your anxiety
  • Set realistic deadlines
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Practice healthy habits
  • Focus on facts

Read more about ways to deal with workplace anxiety

If you’re an employer, you need to ensure you are taking the appropriate action to support your staff with workplace anxiety. If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch with Shawmind for advice and ideas! Or, take the first step towards a happier workplace by signing up for one of our mental health training courses – all funds go towards Headucation to improve mental health for the next generation.

If you’re an employee, the sooner you can talk to your line manager or employer about your workplace anxiety the better. If you’re not confident yet, let us know who your employer is and we can reach out to them with our mental health training courses or Wellbeing Weather Check offer.

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Improving mental health in schools while we get ‘back to normal’

The anxiety about going back to school this year has been amplified by the anxiety that comes with getting ‘back to normal’ after the COVID-19 pandemic. Children already have enough to cope with but over two-thirds of young people believe the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health.

Back to school anxiety has been more prevalent over the last year as children have spent more time at home than ever before but getting back to normal may also cause an increase in health anxiety, separation anxiety and social anxiety.

Children may be concerned for their physical health when going out into the world with others, uncomfortable in social situations they haven’t had to handle in over a year and fearful of spending time away from families they’ve been closer to during the pandemic.

Whether you’re a parent, carer or teacher, as a respected adult figure in their lives, there are some things you can do to improve mental health in schools as children get back to normal.

Encourage conversations about mental health

Children who do not feel as though they can express themselves can bottle up their feelings, leaving them to fester and build up in their minds until the worries become unbearable. By talking openly about your mental health and asking children about how they’re feeling you can encourage them to speak up when something is bothering them. You can also share mental health resources that children and young people can use to develop their understanding and confidence around mental health.

Try not to ask leading questions as this may result in false answers or cause more concerns e.g. “Are you worried about mixing with people again at school?” may give children the impression there is something to worry about while “Is there anything you’re worried about?” gives children the chance to share their uninfluenced concerns.

As much as you can do to encourage conversations about mental health and let children know you’re there to talk, there may be some who will not come forward. In these cases, it’s important to look out for signs of anxiety in children so that you can take appropriate action and intervene if needed.

Practice getting used to new situations

Anxiety is often accompanied by fearing the worst of a new situation – therefore the logical solution is to expose ourselves to that situation so it is no longer new and scary and we know what to expect. The same goes for children returning to school and getting back to normal. The more they get used to a situation, the less they have to worry about.

Gael Lindenfield, psychotherapist and the author of How to Feel Good in Difficult Times has some great advice about handling post-pandemic anxiety that perfectly applies to children. She advises breaking down situations that seem like major challenges into smaller manageable steps.

For example, if a child shows anxiety about spending break times outside with the whole school, start by having break times with a smaller group of people either indoors or in a quieter part of the playground. This will allow them to get used to the idea of spending time with more people until they feel confident and calm enough to join the whole school.

Build a routine

Similarly to practising new situations, routines enable children to know what to expect and prepare themselves for anything they may find worrying. While schools have a timetable they stick to, other parts of the day can help to build a calming routine for children including

  • Getting ready for school – e.g. knowing when to wake up and what steps to take
  • Travelling to school – e.g. how and when they travel every day
  • Break time routines – e.g. who do they spend time with and where
  • Lunchtime routines – e.g. when and what do they eat
  • After-school activities – e.g. sports, homework and socialising

Learn calming techniques

As much as we try to prevent anxiety in children, there will likely still be occasions where it builds up and children need help calming down. While severe cases may need a professional, it’s helpful for anyone who spends a lot of time with children to learn some basic calming techniques for anxiety.

Trigger has provided some great techniques from Cheryl Rickman in this article on back to normal anxiety, including using cognitive tasks to give your brain something else to focus on and carry out. You can use this with children by asking them to count back from 100 in sevens or name as many animals as they can think of from A-Z.

If you’re interested in learning more techniques to support anxiety and children’s mental health, why not purchase one of our training courses? All proceeds go to #Headucation2025 to train teachers in the basics of mental health support.

Our #Headucation campaign aims to train all UK teachers in the basics of mental health support by 2025 which will allow them to comfortably provide children with the support they need.

Right now, schools have to pay for mental health training themselves since it isn’t considered “mandatory” by the government – we want to provide as many fully-funded training sessions as possible. Help us raise money by donating, buying a product from our store or signing up for one of our training courses.

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Why complete a Mental Health first aid course?

A mental health first aider acts as the first point of contact for anyone who want to discuss their mental health. The mental health first aider can provide advice and support in a confidential, non-judgemental way before a professional mental health specialist is contacted.

Mental health is highly important to living a healthy life. It affects our emotional, psychological and social well-being, and is integral to the way we feel, think and act. Understanding of mental health has greatly developed in recent years, however there is still a lot to learn about the problems faced by those suffering with their mental health.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, as such it should be cared for in the same way. With the level of stigma around mental health people can often feel uncomfortable talking about their feelings. Understanding how to effectively support a person struggling with their mental health is an important skill.

Who should become a mental health first aider?

A mental health first aid course is ideal for anyone looking to better understand mental health and how to support those struggling with it. Anyone can take a mental health first aid course, however there are certain professions where it is especially advisable. Understanding how to support those struggling with mental health is important within all professions, especially for those in charge of others.

Mental health in the workplace

Mental health training isn’t only beneficial for employers but can also greatly support employees. Covid has resulted in many struggling to find steady work. A large part of the recruitment process is finding candidates with the right skills for the role. Although role-specific skills are important, employers also look for candidates’ soft skills. The ability to build positive relationships with colleagues and support them in their lives creates a good company culture. Something highly important to companies, especially within a post covid society.

Mental health in education

For Teachers and Careworkers who work around young and vulnerable individuals this training can be especially beneficial. Young and vulnerable people are particularly susceptible to mental health problems, with 1 in 6 school children struggling with their mental health. Completing a mental health first aid course will give you the tools and understanding you need to support individuals with their mental health. While mental health education is compulsory in schools as a result of our initial Headucation campaign, mental health training for teachers isn’t. Teachers and education staff play a large role in the lives of children and, as such, are in the right position to recognise the signs of mental health problems within the children in their care. But how do you recognise these signs?

Why become a mental health first aider?

Negative mental health affects 1 in 4 people. By completing a mental health first aid course you can learn the skills you need to support people with their mental health. As an authority figure in someone’s life, whether that be as a teacher or employer, you are an integral part of their support process. You are not the whole solution, however.

By becoming a mental health first aider you will learn the skills to understand what can affect a person’s mental wellbeing, as well as how to identify signs of various mental health issues. By learning how to confidently reassure and support someone struggling with mental health you will be able to effectively signpost an individual to the appropriate support and resources they need. Although you are not the whole solution, you will be an important part of supporting mental wellbeing.

All proceeds from our mental health training courses will go to our Headucation2025 campaign that aims to train 151,000 teachers in the basics of mental health support. This campaign will provide front line mental health support for nearly 2.5 million school children across the country every year.

We need all the help we can get to provide this crucial training – please support us by donating, booking one of our mental health training courses or buying a product from our store.

 

Donate to #Headucation2025

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How to help teens with mental health

Young people need mental health support more than ever. Help us train teachers to provide early intervention in schools by supporting #Headucation2025.

If you are concerned about the mental health of a teenager in your care, you should consider

  • Speaking to the teen about how they feel
  • Asking a professional or mental health organisation for support

Why is mental health important for teenagers?

Teenagers with good mental health will generally have a positive sense of emotional and social wellbeing that allows them to build relationships, cope with difficulties in life, feel a sense of achievement and generally enjoy life. Teenagers with poor mental health risk struggling in their social life and schoolwork, while feeling hopeless about life and the future.

The state of teen mental health

50% of all mental health problems start by the age of 14 but there is an average 10-year delay between showing the first signs and getting appropriate treatment.

According to research, the most common reason young people had for not seeking support was ‘not feeling like their problem was bad enough’.

But how bad does it have to get before teenagers feel they deserve support?

25% of females and 10% of males aged 16-24 have reported instances of self-harm while suicide is one of the leading causes of death in 15-19-year-olds. It shouldn’t have to reach this point.

One of the biggest problems teens face when seeking mental health support is accessibility. Nearly 70% of teens would prefer to not have to go through a GP for mental health problems but only 50% are aware of other routes. When teenagers are referred to specialist mental health services such as CAMHS, they are often rejected or made to join a long waiting list as these services are massively overstretched.

We believe the key is early intervention. Children and teenagers spend much of their adolescent lives in education settings surrounded by teachers. Yet, with no mandatory or government-funded mental health training, many signs of mental health go unmissed or get mishandled by the school staff. By training teachers in the basics of mental health, they will be better equipped to spot the signs of mental health struggles in teens, support mental health problems in the classroom and signpost teens to alternative mental health resources besides the GP.

Signs of teen mental health problems

It can seem difficult to distinguish what is ‘normal’ behaviour for teens and what is a sign of a mental health challenge. But regardless of the cause, surely you should help anyone displaying signs of distress? Signs of mental health problems in teens can include:

  • Low mood or frequent tearfulness
  • Little enjoyment in activities
  • High irritability
  • Increased social isolation
  • Fixation on weight/size
  • Undereating or avoiding food altogether
  • Unexplained injuries e.g. cuts and bruises
  • Wearing long clothes all the time, even in hot weather
  • Excessive tiredness

For a full list of signs, visit NHS UK.

It can also be helpful to understand what puts teenagers at higher risk of developing a mental health condition.

How you can support teen mental health (without a GP)

Signpost to mental health charities

With youth mental health being such a big problem, there are several non-profit organisations and self-help resources set up to provide expert support and guidance when needed.

YoungMinds

YoungMinds, a national young people’s mental health charity, has created a series of mental health guides. These are great resources for teenagers who want education or support around a wide range of mental health challenges including how to talk to friends about mental health, gender and mental health, and drugs.

The Mix

The Mix is a service that provides under 25’s with support and advice across many different areas. They have a great selection of mental health support resources including articles, a helpline and a chat service.

Reduce Stigma

By reducing stigma around mental health, you can encourage teens to seek help sooner and prevent their mental health from deteriorating further. Start conversations about mental health in classrooms, peer groups and families and share mental health stories from others. “We all have mental health” created by the Anna Freud Centre, is a great 5 minute animated video that tells the story of school children struggling with mental health.

Encourage them to talk

One of the first steps when managing mental health is to talk about it with someone. Make sure teens know they have someone to turn to whether that’s you, a friend, a school counsellor or online resources like the peer-support app Mee Too.

Educate yourself

The more you know, the more you can help. Access mental health training to expand your knowledge on common mental health conditions and how to support those struggling with them. Most courses are suitable for people in all situations including employers, school staff, parents and carers. MyTutor has a great guide to teen mental health for parents that is suitable for any adults working or interacting with young people.

Promote healthy habits

Many of the habits that keep us physically healthy also help to maintain our mental health. Plenty of sleep and regular exercise help to regulate our bodies and brains while sensible attitudes to diet and substances keep us from amplifying the effects of existing mental health symptoms.

Early intervention can not only reduce the impact of mental health on teens in the long term, but by reducing the number of young people in need of intense clinical support it can enable professional services to provide fast and efficient support for those who still need it.

Our #Headucation2025 campaign aims to train 150,000 teachers in the basics of mental health support by 2025 which will allow them to support 2.5 million children every year!

Right now, schools have to pay for mental health training themselves since it isn’t considered “mandatory” by the government – we want to provide as many fully-funded training sessions as possible. It costs £100 to train each teacher – help us raise money by donating, buying a product from our store or signing up for one of our training courses.

Donate to #Headucation2025

Book Mental Health Training

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9 realistic ways to cope with workplace anxiety

Anxiety is debilitating and doesn’t stop when you enter your workplace (or switch on your laptop) but it can feel like you need to push your mental health struggles aside when you go to work so that you can be productive and earn enough money to live your life.

We know it’s not that simple. You can’t tell yourself to stop being anxious at certain times of the day – it doesn’t work that way. Workplace anxiety can manifest itself in many ways including missing deadlines, lacking enthusiasm and having more emotional responses to problems that arise – all of which can lead to problems for you, your team and your employer.

Here are some of our recommended ways to cope with workplace anxiety.

How to cope with workplace anxiety

Talk to colleagues

When you’re struggling with anxiety at work, it can be incredibly helpful to talk to someone you trust. Talking to your colleagues can help you verbalise exactly what is triggering your anxiety, and get advice from people who understand the environment you’re in. Just remember that your coworkers may be struggling with their own mental health or may not be in a good headspace to help you – always ask them if they’re happy to talk to you first.

If there is a Mental Health First Aider in your workplace you can approach them for advice and support but since these are not yet a legal requirement, not every workplace has them.

Work-related tasks can often trigger your anxiety so make sure to also ask for help when you need it to reduce the anxiety you’ll feel in the first place.

Build relationships at work

As well as being able to talk to colleagues at work, building strong relationships with them enables them to spot when you’re behaving differently or showing signs of anxiety. They can step in to help or make adjustments that will reduce how much you will get triggered during the day without you having to ask.

Treat your mental health like your physical health

Due to the stigma that still exists around mental health, many people try to ignore symptoms of poor mental health and carry on working anyway. But would you go to work if you were throwing up? Hopefully not.

The same goes for your mental health – while keeping busy can be helpful at times, your mental health needs rest so it can heal just like your physical health does.

As with physical health problems, you are legally entitled to time off when struggling with mental health. If you don’t want to disclose the specific issue you’re struggling with, you can send a broad message to your employer to inform them that you’ll be off:

Hi [Employer],
I need to take today off for my mental health. Hopefully, then I can be back at 100% for tomorrow 😊
Many Thanks,
[Your Name]

Learn more about anxiety

Educating yourself about anxiety can help you better understand what causes it, the impact it can have and how to handle it. Take an anxiety course online or read the information on official websites like NHS, Mind and (of course) Shawmind.

Keep notes

There are probably common triggers and specific worries that you have at work, but anxiety can also make it difficult to keep track of these over time. Keep notes each time you feel overly anxious at work so that you can start to identify triggering situations in advance and make changes to help you cope.

Make changes to accommodate your anxiety

Everyone works in different ways so you need to find what works for you. Once you’ve identified what makes your anxiety worse see if there are any adjustments you can make to your working life to reduce your anxiety. E.g. if you find that your anxiety is triggered by email notifications popping up in the middle of other tasks you are completing, consider turning off notifications and setting aside specific times of the day to check them.

Set realistic deadlines

A common trigger for workplace anxiety is deadlines. Everyone has them in some form – either set by ourselves or set for us by someone else. The need to get work done by a certain time and the feeling that we can’t fit it all in is not unusual. There are only so many hours in the day so plan your time and determine what you can realistically get done in that timeframe and move other work around as needed. If someone else has given you more work than you can realistically achieve before the given deadline, speak up and ask them which pieces of work should be given priority.

Practice mindfulness and other techniques

Learning techniques like mindfulness can help you to gradually improve how you manage your anxiety at work. It can be difficult to do this without guidance when you’re starting out so we recommend using an app like Flourishzone that can provide you with personalised recommendations and on-demand guidance for mental health and wellbeing techniques.

Practice good habits

Simple habits like taking breaks, staying active and leaving work alone out of hours are great ways to reduce anxiety but are easy to ignore when you’re busy or struggling with anxiety already. Look for ways to keep up with these habits by setting alarms for breaks, deleting your work email account from your phone or having a friend who keeps you accountable for your actions.

State the facts

When we’re anxious or on the verge of a panic attack, our feelings often spiral and start to overwhelm us. By stating the facts and verbalising exactly what is making you feel uncomfortable you can bring your mind back to reality and find a way to move forward. Stating the facts can also be a good way to rationalise what the consequences of whatever has triggered your anxiety would really be rather than letting your imagination run wild.

What can businesses do to support employees with anxiety?

Employers have an obligation to their employees to look after their mental health – not only for their wellbeing but for the success of the organisation as a whole. Simple things businesses can do to support employees are:

Wellbeing Weather Check – this is a diagnostic tool designed to help organisations understand the levels of wellbeing within their organisations so that they implement changes where needed

Mental Health First Aid Training – individuals are trained to look out for and support those with mental health challenges within the organisation and guide businesses leaders to create an environment that supports good mental health

Mental Health Online Training – educating employees about common mental health conditions can help everyone in the organisation work together to support those who are struggling and make changes to improve mental health

Anxiety of any kind is debilitating. It can destroy productivity and takes the joy out of life.

At Shawmind, we’re here to help you enjoy your life and perform at your best through support groups, mental health training and professional advice. Get in touch for support or to find out more about our workplace mental health support.

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Can mental health training improve employability?

While unemployment rates in the UK have not risen as high as economists predicted at the start of the pandemic, there are still numerous job hunters who find themselves competing for (sometimes very junior) roles with highly qualified candidates who were made redundant during COVID.

And naturally, the more relevant qualifications you have the better your CV will look to potential employers. But aside from vocational or subject-specific qualifications, what qualifications and training can you get to boost your employability?

A big part of the recruitment process involves finding a candidate who not only has all the role-specific skills but who will also be able to build positive relationships with colleagues and support them in their lives to create a good company culture.

We believe mental health training is the perfect way to demonstrate these qualities to your potential employer.

Accredited Mental Health Courses

At Shawmind, we offer accredited Mental Health courses that will give you a recognised qualification and help you to demonstrate your commitment to workplace wellbeing.

One of the most popular courses on offer is our 2-Day Mental Health First Aid course that equips you with the skills you need to act as a Mental Health First Aider in your workplace supporting staff and the overall organisation with a range of mental health issues.

In our recently launches series of online mental health courses we offer 2 that are CPD accredited: Mental Health Aware that helps you develop an understanding of common mental health conditions and how they affect people at work and home; and Understanding Stress that allows you to spot the signs of stress and develop tools to manage it in yourself and others.

Online Mental Health Training

Our Understanding Series includes several non-accredited mental health training courses that can help you develop great skills for the workplace including how to manage anxiety in the workplace and how to prevent burnout in employees.

Platforms like Flourishzone are designed to develop both professional and wellbeing skills that can help you in your career. We have teamed up with them to give 1000 Shawmind followers free access to their app – get yours now on our Flourishzone page.

Since mental health training is not mandatory in most roles, you can give yourself a competitive edge and improve your employability by demonstrating a desire to continue learning and to look after the wellbeing of those around you.

All proceeds from our mental health training courses will go to our Headucation2025 campaign that aims to train 151,000 teachers in the basics of mental health support which in turn will improve mental health in children and young people.

We need all the help we can get to provide this crucial training – please support us by donating, booking one of our mental health training courses or buying a product from our store.

Donate to #Headucation2025

Book Mental Health Training

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How can teachers help students with mental health issues?

After parents and carers, teachers spend more time with children than anyone else which puts them in a perfect position to identify problems and help children solve them. Particularly with mental health, teachers are in the unique position of being able to identify, education and support students with mental health challenges.

With 1 in 6 school-aged children struggling with a common mental health condition, what can teachers do to help?

Spot the signs of mental health struggles

Knowing what signs of deteriorating mental health to look out for in children can help teachers to intervene (or instruct another authority to) before the child’s mental health reaches dangerous levels.

Make appropriate referrals

While teachers are an integral part of the process, there is no expectation that they are the whole solution to improving mental health in children: in many cases, teachers will need to signpost them to other resources or refer them for professional support.

The key here is that they make appropriate recommendations even before children reach a stage where they need clinical support – simply recommending some popular mental health resources for the children themselves can be a huge help for a student who is starting to struggle.

Facilitate mental health support in the classroom

Knowing what factors make a child more likely to develop a mental health condition can enable teachers to make adjustments in the classroom that can prevent conditions from developing further. E.g. if you know a child has recently been through a large transition like moving house, you can reduce the number of changes you make within the classroom that can contribute to their stress and anxiety.

Create a safe space to discuss mental health issues

While it may have lessened over the last few years, there is still a lot of stigma around mental health which can hold both adults and children back from talking about their struggles. Every year in February, we run our #SockItToStigma campaign which aims to get children openly discussing mental health and strengthen the notion that it’s ok to talk about it. Teachers need to continue this throughout the rest of the year so that students will be more likely to open up to staff and friends about mental health struggles and seek support.

Of course, teachers cannot do any of this without the proper training. Our #Headucation2025 campaign aims to train 150,000 teachers in the basics of mental health support by 2025 which will allow them to support 2.5 million children every year!

Right now, schools have to pay for mental health training themselves since it isn’t considered “mandatory” by the government – we want to provide as many fully-funded training sessions as possible. It costs £100 to train each teacher – help us raise money by donating, buying a product from our store or signing up for one of our training courses.

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How is children’s mental health legally protected in the UK?

1 in 6 school-aged children in the UK suffer from a mental health condition and suicide is the leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds. With such staggering figures, how is children’s mental health legally protected and treated in the UK?

Several pieces of legislation relating to children’s mental health in the UK including:

  • The Human Rights Act
  • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • The Children Act
  • The Mental Health Act
  • The Education Act

How does the current legislation support children’s mental health in the UK?

The current legislation around rights and mental health in the UK sets out that children should not be discriminated against due to a mental health condition nor should they suffer abuse (either mental abuse or physical abuse that can lead to mental health conditions in the future).

Existing legislation also ensures that relevant parties are responsible for all elements of a child’s welfare and that that official procedures are in place to assess and treat children with mental health conditions.

From September 2020, education around mental health was also made compulsory in schools.

Is the existing children’s mental health legislation enough?

Simply put, no. Despite all the laws that are there to protect and support children’s mental health we are seeing unprecedented levels of depression and anxiety in young people. And with something so difficult to police, discrimination and mental health stigma is still very much a concern.

We believe the problem with the current mental health legislation in the UK is that it mainly looks to support those who suffer from severe mental health conditions rather than protecting them from developing in the first place.

And due to high demand, children who require support don’t receive it quickly enough – many young people with life-threatening conditions can wait more than 100 days before receiving any form of treatment via CAMHS.

Everyone has mental health, just as everyone has physical health. Sometimes it’s worse and sometimes it’s better but it’s always there. The key to preventing severe conditions that require a child to go through long-term clinical treatment is to notice the signs early on, educate children about mental health and encourage them to seek support as soon as they notice a problem (as they are already encouraged to for physical problems).

What more can be done to improve children’s mental health in the UK?

Compulsory mental health education is a big step towards enabling children to seek support themselves – but this is only one part of the solution

Early intervention can not only reduce the impact of mental health on children in the long term, but by reducing the number of young people in need of intense clinical support it can enable professional services like CAMHS to provide fast and efficient support for those who need it.

As part of our #Headucation2025 campaign, we want to equip teachers across the UK with the skills needed to spot and support children with mental health conditions before they reach severe levels.

Spending as much time with children as they do, teachers are already expected to be more than an educator – they are expected to be a friend, guard, and behaviouralist while on school grounds.

So for them to take on additional responsibilities as a mental health first responder and ambassador to reduce stigma, they need training and support that will help them identify when action is needed.

This includes knowing the factors that put children at risk of developing poor mental health, the signs a child is struggling with mental health and resources to use when having conversations with children about mental health.

Despite musings from the government, there is currently no statutory mental health education for teachers which means that school leaders have to balance the cost of training with other needs within the schools.

We’re calling on individuals and owners to help us provide fully-funded mental health training for 151,000 teachers that will enable them to provide support to 2.5 million schoolchildren with mental health every year.

Help us raise £15 million by donating to our fundraiser, buying a product from our store or signing up for one of our mental health training courses – all proceeds will go to Headucation 2025.

We need to do more to protect children’s mental health, help us achieve our goal.

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The importance of mental health training for teachers

Mental health training for teachers has never been more critical: 1 in 6 school age children have a mental health problem and over two thirds of young people believe that lockdown will have a negative impact on their mental health long term.

While mental health education in schools became compulsory from September 2020 as a result of our initial Headucation campaign, mental health training for teachers has not.
As part of our Headucation campaign, Shawmind aims to train  teachers in the basics of mental health support enabling them to support children in the UK.

Why do teachers need mental health training?

Children and teens are struggling with mental health

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds and depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability in young people. With 75% of diagnosable mental health conditions being present before the age of 18, being able to spot the signs and provide appropriate support will help to reduce the rates of suicide and depression as children age. Aside from parents, teachers and education staff are the adults with the most frequent and regular contact with children which places them in a position to observe signs and situations that could signal a mental health problem.

Untreated mental health can significantly worsen a child’s life

Without proper support, poor mental health contributes to several other problems in school children including poor attendance, disruptive behaviour and difficulties communication all of which can impact long term academic performance and the ability to build relationships with other children. So not only can mental health training for teachers improve the lives of the children they teach, it can also help to improve and maintain the reputation of their school and students.

Teachers are under extreme mental pressure

Not only that, but teachers themselves are facing significant pressures and the resulting burnout has caused many to leave the profession. Providing adequate mental health training will also give teachers the tools to manage their own mental health.

Benefits of mental health training for teachers

Our mental health training for teachers will help them to:

  • Understand and define mental health, wellbeing and stigma
  • Understand signs and symptoms of some of the most common mental illnesses, including; anxiety, stress, depression, OCD, substance misuse and suicide
  • Understand how to give support to someone struggling
  • Understand the recovery process

If you’re a teacher or school leader interested in mental health training, please get in touch with us. Your school could be eligible for fully-funded mental health training.

Help us achieve our goal. Donate now or purchase one of our training programmes (all profits from our training programmes go towards our Headucation campaign).

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