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Adapting support and education to the changing needs of mental health - news article image

Adapting support and education to the changing needs of mental health

18 Jun 2020

4 minute read

DFK UK & Ireland, a leading association of independent accounting firms have been talking to their clients and contacts in order to understand how businesses are re purposing through the COVID-19 lock-down. 

In the 12th and last in a series of articles, I spoke to Colette Norbury, Training Lead for mental health charity Oxfordshire Mind. 

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the services of Oxfordshire Mind have seen a huge rise in demand. They had a 415% increase in new visitors to their website during the first week of the crisis and through April they had a 117% increase in crisis calls a 90% increase in calls to the benefits advice service. 

The charity, who exist to make sure anyone with a mental health problem has somewhere to turn for advice and support, are delivering as much as possible online. However both of their ‘Safe Haven’s’ (in Oxford and Banbury) which provide late-night safe spaces for people in crisis are still operating (albeit it with a slightly reduced service). The Housing Team have reduced the number of visits but are also still there in person to support residents. 

Due to the sensitive nature of mental health training and the role of the trainer in maintaining care and boundaries for participants, it has not been appropriate to transfer all of the face-to-face training which Colette delivers to an online format. However, some of the existing material has been adapted for online delivery and new courses created and Colette has been enjoying a different way of reaching people and working hard to ensure that they maintain their reputation for high quality workplace training. 

People are asking for different kinds of support says Colette such as: helping to reduce anxiety; tools for managers to understand and to support teams who are working from home or returning to the workplace and wellbeing for all while working from home or furloughed. With these issues in mind, they have created a new suite of material which has been created specifically to help workers through this time, this includes: 

  • For Managers: Understanding Mental Health & Tools to Support Working Well From Home 
  • Webinars for parents or for those working alone 
  • Exploring Anxiety and Tools to Manage It 
  • The Five Ways to Wellbeing 
  • Mental Health Awareness (MHFA England) Half Day Course Online 

Anxiety and depression have always been the most common mental health conditions and the new ways of working and worries around COVID-19 are impacting those with pre-existing conditions or triggering symptoms in people for the first time. So, it is vital to enable people to be proactive in looking after their mental health, whilst educating all in the signs and symptoms, some of which can be spotted remotely. 

“Oxfordshire Mind Workplace Training is already helping businesses and is keen to reach more. Our Workplace Wellbeing Community is rising to the fore here as more and more businesses connect and support each other” says Colette. "Now, as retail stores are re-opening and some workers are returning to the workplace, the support is adapting to their changing needs. I am heartened by the amazing feedback for the courses and by the resolve of many businesses to commit to supporting staff." 

As well as the virtual training delivery, Oxfordshire Mind are promoting how to look after mental health through social media, including tips on physical exercise and wellbeing and how what we eat can affect wellbeing. Their website has some useful tips Coronavirus and your wellbeing. An example of a new way of delivering their services is the introduction of a virtual wellbeing walk hosted by their walking for wellbeing team – these are open to all Oxfordshire Mind virtual walks

There are other areas for support who Oxfordshire Mind work closely with such as the Samaritans, Oxford Save Haven and Banbury Safe Haven – superb services for people to contact if in a mental health crisis. Talking Space Plus helps to overcome anxiety and depression. 

Colette’s tip to business owners to help them to survive lockdown is “Stay connected, for example the CEO can give an encouraging webinar to all staff to boost morale and motivation and keep employees informed. Agree practices about contact with each other (formal and informal) that everyone is comfortable with, some work well with daily check-ins, others might like this to be less regular. Also remember, we don’t have to be on webcam for every meeting!”

Adapting support and education to the changing needs of mental health - news article image


Fran Kidd

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