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Workplace Mental Health Focus: Early Careers

Workplace Mental Health Focus: Early Careers
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Farimah Darbyshire shares about the CMHA's recent member event on how workplaces can support people early in their careers.

The CMHA regularly hosts Member Insight and Exchange sessions, which gives our member businesses the chance to speak, in confidence, with other businesses about what works and, importantly, what doesn’t work when it comes to workplace mental health. Last week I chaired a session on what businesses can do to support the mental health of people in their early careers

We know that the transition from education into work can be exciting, but it also brings intense change and new challenges. Even at the best of times, it can be stressful - there is a risk that new mental health conditions can start, old ones can be triggered or existing ones can worsen. The tumultuous events of the last year have made this time even harder.

So there has never been a more important time for businesses to prioritise supporting the wellbeing of young people as they make this transition. Paddy O’Kane, Trainee Solicitor at Linklaters and Committee Member for the Thriving From The Start (TFTS) Network, spoke about how young people are starting their careers at a time when almost every area of their life is uncertain. If they are in education, exams continue to be in unchartered territory. If they are already at work, they are missing out on face-to-face time with peers and managers, as well as exposure to the culture of their new employer. Many are finding it hard to get to grips with work/life boundaries, while others are anxious about what future ways of working might mean for them. And, out of work, some are in limbo about whether to commit to 18-month rental contracts or camp out back at the family home. There is also health anxiety, given that most of this population is yet to be vaccinated, and long-term worries about the economy and job security. The list goes on.

CMHA members recognise that they have a responsibility, and an opportunity, to support the mental health of people in their early careers. It’s the right thing to do. It is also business critical - A 2020 CMHA survey showed that 91% of early careers job seekers are more likely to apply to an employer that shows a commitment to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. Young people are more likely to join, stay and thrive in an organisation that prioritises their mental health.

At our insight and exchange session it was inspiring to learn about the many initiatives that CMHA members are rolling out to support their people at this stage. Members talked about running mental health awareness campaigns involving and targeting people in early careers, to challenge stigma in that cohort. Some spoke about engaging new recruits, even before their start date, through webinars about looking after their mental health and wellbeing at work, and signposting to support. Others discussed providing mental health training to recruitment teams and line managers, so that the people surrounding people in their early careers feel confident to have conversations about, and spot warning signs related to, poor mental health.

As ever, thank you again to CMHA members for sharing. There is no guidebook on workplace mental health, so it’s powerful when our business community comes together to share what they are doing, so that we can learn from each other and capture innovation. We are planning to hold a longer event focused on this focus area, later in the year. Stay tuned.

Resources 

A reminder of some of the support early careers support that the CMHA offers businesses:

  • The CMHA Guide to Mentally Healthy Recruitment and Induction: This is a free for members, and can be purchased by non-members
  • Early careers mental health training – the CMHA training division offer mental health training designed for people in early careers or line managers of people in early careers. 
  • The Thriving From The Start Network – this is the mental health network for your colleagues in their early careers, which is overseen by the CMHA. Click here to see the Network’s most recent event.
  • Thrive From The Start Badge – if your business is on a journey to achieving the CMHA’s eight standards for mentally healthy recruitment and induction, you are eligible to be awarded the CMHA’s Thrive From The Start Badge, which can be displayed on recruitment collateral and online pages.

Please contact farimah@citymha.org.uk if you have any questions.

Find out more about becoming a member of the alliance here