Many of us are working from home at the moment. For some of us this is nothing new and we know how to make this work for us. For others, this will be a new experience and may be quite unsettling. Home working can be really beneficial as it can remove a stressful commute, reduce our carbon footprint through reduced travel and increase productivity as you can work at a rhythm that suits you. The important thing to remember is that it isn’t the same as being at your organisation with your colleagues. You won’t have the cues at lunchtime and the end of the day to stop working; you won’t have those incidental chats in the kitchen and you won’t have to walk to the carpark, bus or train. So here are some things to think about:
Mental Health at Work and the Mental Health Foundation have produced resources to help you to work from home to check these out too. And remember to be kind to yourself and others as we get used to this new way of working.
Living and working in the twenty-first century can leave you feeling frazzled. And if you’re working in Further Education (FE) supporting learners to achieve their aspirations, developing the skills for the future workforce and coping with the demands of the workplace, this is particularly so.
The Education and Training Foundation’s purpose is to develop great teachers in outstanding organisations and this wouldn’t be possible without being mindful of the emotional wellbeing of the workforce to ensure they take care of themselves and their learners. Indeed, in our recent training needs analysis of the further education and training needs sector, 21% of people indicated they would like mental health training in the coming year. The key driver of demand for mental health training is the perception that mental health issues amongst learners are becoming more frequent.
There are many expert organisations with a range of support for the workforce to tap into and we are developing partnerships to ensure that those working in FE can benefit from this support.
Education Support is the only charity that supports the mental health and wellbeing of all education staff. They offer a free and confidential helpline which is available 24/7 and staffed by qualified counsellors as well as grants to those experiencing a financial crisis. In October 2018,they released the findings of their survey into the mental health of the education sector which includes responses from people working in the Further Education and Training sector.
The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) then commissioned the Education Support in February 2019 to help them investigate the current levels of staff wellbeing in the post-14 workforce. The aims of the research were to identify and measure current levels of staff wellbeing in the sector; to identify specific groups of staff at different career stages who have the highest risk of poor wellbeing; and to understand the work-related and personal factors impacting on wellbeing. Read the full report on the ETF’s Research page.
You might also like to take a look at the Mental Health at Work gateway which is an amalgamation of the most effective resources to support mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. You can filter by sector including education and teaching to find the most relevant resources.
For organisations offering apprenticeships, you will find modules on promoting positive mental health for all as part of the equality, diversity and inclusion course on Foundation Online Learning (within the Future Apprenticeships area).
Our Associate, Neil Bates, wrote about the importance of mental health support for leaders – read his FE Week article.
Finally, we all know the positive impact of learning upon mental health and emotional wellbeing, and findings from the recent study into the impact of adult and community learning reinforce this message. You can read the findings.