As an Apprenticeship Training Provider, young people are at the heart of our organisation. With mental health issues being so prevalent in young people, particularly over the past 12 months, supporting our apprentices with their mental well-being has been just as important as their technical education.
One of the concerns that we identified as an organisation, is how apprentices can experience high levels of stress and anxiety prior to sitting their exams, and EMA’s Accountancy Mentor and Safeguarding Officer, Julie O’Callaghan, came up with an innovative method to address the issue.
Fun fact about Julie; she is also training to become a qualified yoga instructor! Julie offers learners time before their exams to completely de-stress through deep-breathing techniques and yoga! Whilst yoga isn’t for everyone, Julie has really helped many of our learners and the feedback has been excellent! One of our accountancy apprentices commented:
“The deep relaxation techniques worked really well for me, and I think it will improve the more I do it… Thank you for all your support!”
But it is not just apprentices who experience mental ill-health. Common issues such as stress, anxiety and phobias are present in almost every team, and there is often a spectrum from mild to severe. In February 2021, the entire EMA team enrolled onto a Level 2 Mental Health Awareness programme to increase our knowledge and awareness of mental health. We are four sessions in, and it has already started to provoke more conversations around mental health in the workplace. Our Chief Operating Officer, James, shared some of his own experiences with mental health:
“Throughout my professional career I have experienced a range of emotions relating to mental health in the workplace from mild stress to quite severe anxiety. The key for me is to understand the triggers that cause me to feel this way, remove or reduce them and adopt a strategy to help me best cope. An example of this is the anxiety I experience when public speaking or delivering an important presentation. I will always get anxiety –it is in my genetics, but there are things I do to help me manage it effectively. For example, positive thinking, learning, and understanding my subject material thoroughly and focussing on how I will feel once I have completed the presentation. There are other, simple steps that I take, which includes exercising regularly (releasing endorphins), getting plenty of sleep, drinking lots of water and eating healthily.”
Over the past 12 months, working from home has become the norm for so many people across the world and whilst some may argue that this new way of working has had a positive impact on things such as work-life balance, reducing pollution and cutting costs associated with commuting to the office, research suggests that for many, mental health has been negatively impacted. In order to address this, the Leadership Team at EMA have kept employees connected through weekly team calls, water-cooler catch-ups and the previously mentioned, mental health courses. Our Digital Marketing Apprentice, Jess, gave her thoughts on the weekly calls:
“I find the weekly team calls really beneficial; it helps me feel connected to the team even though I haven’t seen them in person for months!”
It is important to check on the people around you and make sure they aren’t struggling alone.
EMA Training take mental health very seriously and never want anyone; apprentice, or staff to suffer in silence! We are making moves daily, working to continuously provide effective support for anyone struggling.
If you need someone to talk to, please do contact our Safeguarding Officer: [email protected]