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The importance of upskilling our workforce in mental health
According to the mental health charity Mind, mental health problems are steadily increasing across the UK population; every year, 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem, with groups such as women aged 16-24, members of the LGBTIQ+ community and Black British citizens all being more susceptible due to the social inequality and disadvantage, discrimination or social exclusion they may experience.
Currently across our nation, 1 in 5 people experience suicidal thoughts, 1 in 14 have self-harmed and 1 in 15 will attempt suicide – with men three times more likely to die of suicide than females.
Impact of the pandemic on mental health
Mind has also reported that approximately one-third of adults and young people perceived that their mental health had deteriorated since the beginning of the pandemic, where 88% of young people attributed loneliness as a cause. However, one-fifth of adults did not consider their own mental health problem to be significant enough to access support.
It is evident, then, that services must be agile and able to respond to the mental health needs of our nation.
A different perspective – workforce wellbeing
The recent Care Quality Commission reports that staff mental health has been adversely affected by the pandemic and that challenges faced – such as persistent excessive workload, coping with unprecedented illness and death, and difficulties in accessing support and resources – are all significant contributors.
Plus, existing long-term workforce pressures have more than likely been exacerbated by the pandemic, leading to burnout, anxiety and stress; within the adult care workforce, sickness rates doubled between the beginning of the pandemic and June 2021.
Ultimately, workforce wellbeing across the health and care workforce must be viewed as an acute issue heightened as a result of the pandemic. Promoting wellbeing must be central, as a ‘well workforce’ ensures quality provision which service users deserve.
Over the last decade, there has been much investment in developing mental health provision. The NHS Long Term Plan builds upon the Five Year Forward View for mental health to ensure that wellbeing is a priority. Health and care are also partnering to enable innovation and efficiency, adopting a proactive and preventative approach.
The NHS Long Term Plan pledges a commitment to revolutionise mental health care through a range of strategies, which include: investing a minimum of a further £2.3 billion a year by 2023/4, delivering accessible mental health crisis care, extending specialist provision for mothers, and increasing and developing services within schools and colleges to ensure wider reach and simultaneously growing community and hospital services.
In order to respond to the current drivers in relation to mental health, the sector must invest in its workforce. We all know the benefits of continuous professional development (CPD); it provides deeper insight and ability, refines personal skills, helps to plug any knowledge gaps and opens pathways to career progression or potential redirection.
But, in order to be purposeful, CPD must be well crafted. This includes ensuring that it is relevant, suitable, and accessible, as well as manageable and practicable.
This is why NCFE is working across the health and social care and education sectors in order to support a caring quality workforce; our qualifications meet evolving needs, where quality training results in positive outcomes for all.
Within our offer is a group of products which raise awareness, knowledge and understanding of mental health, mental health conditions and support for mental wellbeing through the life span and in different contexts. These products support access to further study, as well as progression to and within employment in care and health. They’re also beneficial to learners working in public service roles, for example, education and training, the housing, voluntary and community sector, sport, hospitality and travel and tourism, as well as those committed to championing workforce wellbeing.
Plus, our qualifications are eligible for a variety of funding streams such as the Adult Education Budget (AEB), European Social Fund (ESF), Lifetime Skills Guarantee, Restart and more. This funding ensures that adults are able to develop their skills at no personal cost, and does not use up organisations’ own limited budgets.