Mental health and apprenticeships

Apprenticeships have always been seen as a catalyst for economic and social change, improving the life chances and earning potential of the apprentice. That said, apprenticeships can place strains on individuals as they work, study and manage domestic responsibilities. As the Government continues to realise its vision of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, the challenge for providers to support apprentices with mental health problems becomes increasingly important.

Low levels of declarations mean the exact number of apprentices with mental health issues are unknown. However, an AoC survey of 132 FE colleges (37% of total) indicated that 75% felt there were significant numbers of learners with undisclosed mental health problems. For many, the stigma around mental health still causes apprentices not to disclose this valuable information to their provider or their employer. Staff awareness and training can help to alleviate some of this fear.

Sarah Gifford from the Education and Training Foundation said:

“Many providers will already have good policies and processes in place, but more needs to be done to promote these through the organisation and to their apprentices These case studies are a great way to showcase some of the effective practice that is already out there in the sector. I hope they will increase awareness and raise the quality of support for those with mental health needs. Small changes really can make a big difference.”

Many employers already know that health and wellbeing of staff have been proven to reduce sickness absence and increase productivity of an organisation. According to mental health charity Mind ‘56% of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing’. It is important for all to remember that as employees – apprentices fall into that percentage.

The Education and Training Foundation has produced three case studies to showcase effective practice within the sector around mental health. They will form part of an in-depth module on mental health in  ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Apprenticeships’, the free online course.

Read the case studies: