Week Commencing 15/01/2024 – In The News

New data released for Blue Monday

New research from MHFA England, released ahead of so-called Blue Monday, shows 59% of employees do not regularly feel joy and satisfaction at work. 1 in 5 (22%) workers feel their sense of purpose, satisfaction, and joy at work has decreased since the pandemic.

So called ‘Blue Monday’ is often billed as the ‘most depressing’ day of the year. The reality is that poor mental health can affect anyone, at any time in the year, and it impacts people in different ways. MHFA England’s latest research, among 2,000 employees, finds a third say they often feel unhappy, stressed, or worried in the workplace.

Concerningly, despite this, almost half of workers say they have never had a wellbeing check-in from their employer. The data reveals that since 2021, almost double the number of employees say their workplace failed to check in on their wellbeing in the past year. (48% in 2023, matching 2022 figures, and up from 25% in 2021).

In 2024, we should feel safe to bring our whole selves to work, without fear of prejudice or consequence. That includes background, sexuality, religion, gender, health and mental health.  Yet the research shows only 61% of employees feel they can do so. Despite a growing understanding of the importance of psychological safety in the workplace, this is a decline since 2020, when two thirds (66%) of workers felt able to. If we don’t feel safe to bring our whole self to work, it will limit the joy and satisfaction we are able to feel in our work, as well as our performance.

Read more about the research on the HSM website.

‘Fit clinics’ – Delivering PPE that fits the bill

Whether workers are male or female, their PPE needs to fit properly to guarantee adequate protection.

When it comes to personal protective equipment, it is clear that one size does not fit all. Ill-fitting, uncomfortable, or impractical PPE can pose significant safety risks, hinder performance and erode confidence. If employees find their PPE uncomfortable, it also increases the chances they won’t wear it.

There can be vast differences in the physical dimensions of workers. In the case of safety gloves, for example, workers with larger hands may find standard glove sizes too tight and uncomfortable, potentially restricting movement and causing circulation issues. For those with smaller hands, standard-sized gloves can slip off, affect grip and dexterity, or get caught in moving parts or tools.

Women in particular often struggle to find suitably sized PPE. In recent years, the UK has seen an increase in the proportion of female employees in fields including construction, manufacturing, oil and gas, aerospace, and warehousing, distribution, and logistics. In manufacturing, women made up 25.8% of the UK workforce in 2022, up from 22.7% a decade earlier. The proportion of women in the construction workforce rose to 12.9% in 2022 from 9.7% in 2016.

As more women enter what were once male-dominated industry sectors, ensuring their safety through the availability of appropriate PPE has become increasingly critical. This is not just a matter of necessity; it’s about respect, equality, and the path toward a safer, more inclusive world.

Learn more on the SHP website.

Drivetech shares winter driving advice

As winter’s grip tightens, navigating the roads is particularly challenging for drivers contending with excess rain, snow, black ice, and frost. From identifying hidden risks to preparing your vehicle for the frosty conditions, Drivetec has compiled tips to equip drivers with the knowledge and tools necessary to beat the tricky seasonal conditions ahead.

What to look out for

  • Black ice – this thin and transparent layer of ice, typically hard to see, is caused by rain falling on a frozen surface.
  • Heavy snow – roads can close for hours after heavy snow, so be prepared to be stuck in traffic for an unpredictable amount of time.
  • Frost and wet patches – these are likely to be found in areas, such as under trees, in shadows and under bridges. Be aware of these conditions as they are not always visible!
  • Driving in the rain – it can be easy to misjudge the state of the road, especially in wet conditions. Be sure to leave twice as much space from the car in front of you and, if your steering feels light due to aquaplaning, ease off the accelerator and gradually slow down.

Read the full advice on the HSM website.

Armed forces veterans to get more mental health support

Military veterans have opened up about the low points they hit after leaving the forces. Some say they considered taking their own lives as they struggled to cope with civilian life or severe injury. The NHS is offering hope in the form of an expanded mental health support service tailor-made for military personnel.

Denis Mutisya, 36, served as a Bombardier in the 19th Regiment Royal Artillery for 13 years, before being discharged two years ago due to injury.

He said the change was a “shock”, and not something he had anticipated.

At his lowest point he was able to turn to Op Courage, an NHS service aimed at serving and retired members of the armed forces.

Former military dental officer, Debbie Cooper, said her encounter with Op Courage was “the first glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel”.

“I joined up to pretty much do my full career in the military so being told that this is the end of my career was bittersweet,” said Mr Mutisya.

“I was not physically able to carry on. I understand that, but I did struggle.”

As his return to civvy street started becoming “very difficult”, the veteran connected with Op Courage.

“At the time I wasn’t even aware that I was struggling with my mental health,” he continued.

“That one call – it changed my life.

Set up by the NHS in 2017, the “lifeline” service Op Courage has seen more than 30,000 referrals with many self-referring veterans looking for help.

Learn more about Op Courage on the BBC website.

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