Jobcentre Plus mental health initiative is a training programme currently rolling out across Jobcentre Plus in Scotland, with the aim of addressing absences due to stress, anxiety and depression.
In October 2009, the Scottish Attendance Management Group, which includes representatives from every part of the Jobcentre Plus business in Scotland, began to analyse reasons for staff absences. The top reason was mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression. To tackle this, the group decided to train its management in understanding mental health.
The project was run in partnership with:
With help from the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives, a one-day training course was delivered to learning and development officers at Jobcentre Plus. These officers were then assessed and certificated by Healthy Working Lives to deliver the course to Jobcentre Plus managers. 'The main aim,' says Kathleen Sands, mental health coordinator at Jobcentre Plus, 'was to reduce the number and duration of absences arising from stress, anxiety and depression by providing a healthy working environment and appropriate support and advice for managers and staff.'
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The objectives of the training course were to:
Delegates from an early session completed post event evaluations and responses were very positive. People felt they were more able to identify signs and symptoms of mental ill health in the workplace and more confident discussing and signposting their colleagues. Delegate awareness of sources of support had been raised significantly by the workshop.
One delegate says, 'The course material is very informative, giving managers a broad understanding and awareness of mental health issues in the workplace. The programme is also designed to ensure that managers are aware of their responsibilities in relation to health and wellbeing, and can improve their skills and confidence in dealing with mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.'
The impact of this initiative is highlighted in the significant reduction of both long and short term mental ill health absences recorded in January and February 2010 compared with the same two months of 2011. In year-on-year comparison, mental health related absences as a proportion of all absences dropped by 45 per cent in the Jobcentre directorate and 21 per cent in the Benefit and centre directorate. This contributed to strong performance on average working days lost.
As a result of these improvements the Scottish Attendance Management group submitted a nomination for the National Performance Awards and were chosen as overall winner of the category Working Across Operational Arms at an event in London on 10 June 2011.
So far, only informal feedback has been gathered and, as the project continues to be rolled out, it is necessary to undertake more formal evaluation.
The project is now being rolled out to Jobcentre Plus across the whole of Scotland, and to all grades of manager.
To take things further, the Scottish Attendance Management Group were key to Jobcentre Plus Scotland signing the 'see me' pledge on 8 October 2010 to coincide with World Mental Health Day. This was signed in Lanarkshire through links with NHS Lanarkshire established by Kathleen Sands in her work as Mental Health Coordinator.
Mental Health/DEA Coordinator
Jobcentre Plus Customer Service
3 South Muirhead Road
Tel: 01236 503244
Mobile: 07825 832978
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