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Mental Health Awareness Week

15 May 2015

To help raise awareness of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week colleagues across Prospects Group have taken part in activities and fund raising.

What is Mental Health Awareness Week?
Every year the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) help to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues. Since the first Mental Health Awareness Week in 2000 they have helped generate public debates around how anxiety, sleep deprivation and exercise can impact our mental health.

This year the theme is Mindfulness.

What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment, without getting stuck in the past or worrying about the future. It can be practiced standing, sitting or walking, inside or out, at home, school or work. You can tailor it to suit your own needs and it can mean different things to different people.

At the heart of it, mindfulness helps people observe the way they think and feel about their experiences, whether good or bad. This can really change the way you manage and react to stressful situations, giving you a valuable tool to stay mentally healthy, and an ever-expanding body of evidence shows that it really works.

Mindfulness is already known to be successful in helping people with mental and physical health problems, from stress, depression and anxiety to chronic pain, eating disorders and concentration, boost our productivity at work, and give us a greater enjoyment of life.

There’s still time to get involved with Mental Health Awareness Week 2015 by finding out more HERE.

Prospects leading the way
At Prospects, alongside supporting more than 500,000 people each year, we support our 1.400 colleagues. The recently launched employee wellbeing policy has been created in response to employee feedback. The policy encourages a holistic approach to employee wellbeing by bringing different aspects together.

Prospects staff can also access support and training in a variety of ways, including the range of tutorials and courses available on Skillbites. These services are complemented by Prospects employee assistance service, Health Assured, the free 24 hour confidential helpline available to all staff offering counselling on factors including finance, legal, relationship and addiction issues.

This sensitive approach to our employees’ wellbeing is shared when we work with our customers. In Bradford a large number of staff hold level 2 mental health awareness qualifications and the team offer work experience placements for customers with mental health difficulties, as they are able to provide a supportive environment.

The team in Bradford have also created a specific course for young people aged 16 – 24 with mental health issues called Headspace. Designed for young people who feel they need a friendly and relaxed environment in which to start exploring ways to deal with issues such as nervousness, anxiety, feeling down and lacking confidence. The first short eight week course encouraged participants to explore different ways to deal with everyday life and make plans for the future; whether considering employment, college further training, voluntary work or joining groups or clubs. Headspace received very positive feedback from the young people involved who felt it had provided a stepping stone and helped them improve their confidence to move forwards in their lives. Following the course one participant gained an interview for a traineeship and two others are starting training. Headspace is being rolled out in other parts of the region with a course starting in Keighley shortly.

Prospects is a prime contractor for the Work Programme in the South West and major subcontractor in London and Bristol. The Work Programme helps those furthest from the job market re-engage with employment. Mental health issues affect a large proportion of our customers to varying degrees. To help our customers Prospects ensures each Work Programme office has an adviser specialising in mental health.

Raising Awareness
Across the Group colleagues have been raising awareness. All offices and centres displayed posters and at Gabbitas, the independent education consultants, a mid-week bake sale raised £53.

In Bromley some of the team visited the local park and took part in a mindfulness session at lunchtime, which everyone found calming and beneficial. The team in the Black Country organised a number of activities including tea and talk, an opportunity for colleagues to get away from their desks for a short time and practice mindfulness techniques with coffee and cake, and a lunchtime canal walk along the tow path offering staff space and time to practice mindfulness.

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