How Do We Alleviate the Looming Mental Health Crisis?

The mental health and wellbeing of the nation has been pulled into sharp focus following the lockdown and subsequent limitations imposed on ‘normal life’ thanks to Covid-19.

In a range of new reports by the Office of National Statistics, the mental health and wellbeing of people across the UK, particularly of parents and children, has been highlighted as an area of concern.

In the ONS’ latest report on education and childcare one of the most startling findings was that ‘Between 3 April and 10 May 2020, of parents who were homeschooling, one in three women (34%) agreed that it was negatively affecting their well-being compared with one in five men (20%), while 43% of homeschooling parents agreed that it was negatively affecting the well-being of their children’.

In addition, ‘During this period, only half of parents who were homeschooling (49%) strongly or somewhat agreed that they were confident in their abilities to homeschool their children. Parents also reported that homeschooling was negatively affecting their jobs and well-being’.

Peter Wingrove, Operations Director at Shawmind, believes that companies and organisations owe it to their employees to take heed of these stats, particularly with the six-week summer holidays days away.

Peter said: “It’s been a steep learning curve for all of us during lockdown: with the best will in the world no-one could have planned for everything this crisis has, and continues to throw at us. But I believe that employers should be looking at this report and thinking about how they can truly support their staff, particularly those who have juggled childcare and homeschooling, while still delivering at work throughout lockdown.

“When we realised the nation would be going in to lockdown, we quickly set in motion a range of volunteer-led tele-services to continue to support those in our local community who were regular visitors to our Breathe Cafes, Pop-Ups and ManCave groups. We didn’t want anyone to be without the support they needed.

“We also took our mental health and wellbeing training courses, which were due to be launched in April, online so that people could access them from anywhere in the country, while still benefitting from the live and interactive format of the sessions.

The charity is particularly proud of its training courses aimed at children, teenagers and parents – Monkey Wisdom, which is delivered by professional trainer and ex-teacher Tana Macpherson-Smith who also created the series.

In the sessions, parents and their children are encouraged to address key areas of concern and work together to find a way to move forward for the benefit of the whole household.

Meanwhile, businesses that want to boost their staff and invest in their long-term wellbeing can talk to the charity about their mental health programme, or book on to the charity’s workplace mental health courses, which will not only help foster an environment of support and openness, but will also help staff to better process their own thoughts, feelings and emotions, thereby building a more resilient workforce now and in the future.

Peter concludes: “It is widely realized that the long-term affects of Covid-19 will be felt well into the future, at home, work and school. It’s time for businesses and individuals to take serious steps to embed mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, at home and at school.

“Our courses are just step one, but by equipping people with more information about mental ill health and wellbeing and providing some tangible tools to help people cope when things get too much, we believe we can make a change to society for the benefit of all.”