Mental Health Training

Health & Wellbeing at Work Conference 2020: Dame Carol Black ‘Healthier Tomorrow – There Yet?’

Posted by on 12 Mar, 2020 in Mental Health |

Health & Wellbeing at Work Conference 2020: Dame Carol Black ‘Healthier Tomorrow – There Yet?’

This year’s Health & Wellbeing at Work Conference was another successful event, despite the intentions of a certain virus out to ruin the proceedings. Understandably Coronavirus did impact event numbers which were lower than in previous years on both days, however delegates were still in good spirits and the CPD lectures were really interesting and a great source of knowledge as always.Dame Carol, mental health, MHFA

Dame Carol Black’s address was a typical full house where she picked up on last year’s theme ‘Healthier Tomorrow – There Yet?’ feeling that it was useful to re-ask the question. Dame Carol emphasised that we are still trying to get to ‘total work and health’, health not simply being an ‘add-on’ but rather embedded into UK workplaces – ‘inside the building’ if you will. It was positive to hear that significant progress has been made however since 2005. Dame Carol catalogued a whole range of initiatives that have been developed since then, from a mental health perspective including: Mental Health First Aid, Mindful Employer, Sleep management, Suicide prevention work amongst isolated mariners, financial wellbeing support programmes, initiatives to support cinema and TV workers due to poor mental health and suicide, amongst many others.

Dame Carol highlighted that whilst employment growth has risen in recent years, the quality of work has not risen alongside it. Focus is still on ‘good work’ for good health and mental wellbeing, not simply work,

“The dial is not moving as quickly as we’d like. We need to ask WHY.”

A significant emphasis was placed by Dame Carol on using effective scientific tests to measure interventions, randomised control trials not being everything in this, provided that testing is rigorous. From research having already taken place the most promising interventions are shown to be in mental health, muscular skeletal, and menopause, the recent Deloitte report for example giving an RIO of £7 on every £1 invested specifically in mental health training. Organisations need to ensure appropriate and effective measurement is in place, or hold the provider to account.

Dame Carol also talked about the newly launched ‘Developing and Embedding Workplace Health Interventions Toolkit’ from Public Health England | CIPD | Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Dame Carol put two questions to her listeners, askingPresenteeism, mental health

“Do the things we usually measure matter most?”

“Are we missing other factors?”

Emphasis was placed on measuring presenteeism and the shift since 2005 from sole focus on absenteeism, which isn’t always the best indicator. As Fionuala Bonnar, Chief Operating Officer from MHFA England confirmed in the panel session ‘Mental Health Awareness Training – Where Next?’

“Absenteeism should actually go up [initially] if interventions are doing the right thing, as should usage of any Employee Assistance Programme.”

Rising absence rates in themselves are a potential indication of change in presenteeism. mental health training, mental health, older people.Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey highlighted the now greater focus on presenteeism, which is also strongly linked to productivity and mental health. Results therein show more presenteeism in the young and that organisation and culture matters a great deal to them. Focus was placed too on the older workforce and finding out what matters most for them. Dame Carol gave 5 tips for supporting an older workforce: 1) need for flexibility 2) ensuring career development 3) having an age positive culture 3) support for older workers, and 4) hiring and recruiting in an age positive way.

Dame Carol concluded her presentation with three key messages for the audience:

  • Collect data
  • Evaluate
  • Ensure you include presenteeism and not just absenteeism