Employability Insights: Mental Health

by Karen Hampton, Sales Director

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has decided to put time aside to think about mental health this week. Mental Health Awareness Week is hosted every year by the Mental health Foundation, and it is a fantastic opportunity to start a conversation about the issues that matter to all of us.

This year’s theme is loneliness, which has affected more of us during the pandemic and highlighted the need to meaningfully connect with others. One of the biggest connections we have to others in our communities is through our workplaces. It’s important that employers and team leaders are attentive to the kind of work environment that we are shaping, both for our existing employees and for all those who are entering our businesses.

 

Barriers to Employment

The team here at Kenny Waste Management has consistently taken steps to build a workplace where everyone’s contributions are valued. During recruitment, the business is always looking for a person’s raw potential, paying close attention to past background which may be holding them back from future employment.

Mental health is a significant factor which can affect someone’s employment prospects. While positive mental health can make looking for work an exciting challenge, negative mental health can sometimes make employment feel out of reach.

It’s also very true that being out of work, ‘long-term unemployment’, is usually detrimental to mental health too. This results in a feedback loop that can be broken by improved confidence and motivation, the kind that comes from genuine encouragement and work-based opportunities.

 

“Unemployment and mental health problems appear to have a causal link both ways. People with mental health problems are much less likely to be in paid employment and people who have been unemployed for at least six months are more likely to develop depression or other mental health conditions.”

– ‘Barriers to Employment’, Centre for Mental Health, p.2.

 

Negative mental health can also be linked to other barriers to employment, such as addiction, so it’s really important that people feel enabled to seek out the support they need. I became a Mental Health First Aider because, all things considered, we need people who are personally committed to provide that listening ear and signposting the right help wherever it’s needed.

Sometimes, an individual just needs someone to hear them out and listen to the issues that they are facing. Other individuals might need help in reaching out to a trained counsellor or other qualified professional. By providing that support, businesses can increase retention and improve productivity, all while nurturing a workplace that is truly inclusive and proactively tackling a barrier to employment.

There is a very wide spectrum of mental health issues and facing them is nothing to be embarrassed about. At Kenny Waste Management, our people are at the heart of everything we do and, as a Responsible Business, we are committed to take action to improve employee health and wellbeing.

I am immensely proud that we also embrace a level of responsibility to our communities, to local people who simply need that chance to prove themselves. I am confident that together, by providing opportunities and work-based activity within our own business, we can enhance long-term employment prospects while attracting valuable new recruits to the waste management sector.

 

Our Mission

Alongside my role as Sales Director here at Kenny Waste Management, I am also passionately working as a Director within our very own Social Enterprise. We established Kenny Waste Management Social Enterprise Ltd, Driving Change, with a mission that empowers organisations to offer long-term jobs, training, and qualifications to the most disadvantaged.

That mission is underpinned by our vision that all workplaces will be truly inclusive and create bright futures for all. Negative mental health can be a real disadvantage so, to ensure those bright futures, it’s important to us that we approach it as a valid barrier to employment.

Kenny Waste Management Social Enterprise Ltd is structured by three signature programmes. These programmes are inclusive, that’s absolutely important, and gladly welcome participants from all backgrounds including those who may be facing mental health challenges.

 

 

Today in particular, I want to shine the spotlight on the Turning Points programme, which puts emphasis on improving confidence and motivation in tandem with increasing job readiness and employability. One recent participant who really benefitted from the structure and stability the programme offers got in touch to say:

 

“Within a week, my head was completely work-focussed again, and I was able to pick myself up. Meeting others in the same boat gave me a real boost in confidence and inspired me to do my best.”

– Participant, Turning Points: Spring 2022

 

We know that work itself is a key to improving wellbeing. If you or someone you know would benefit from sector-specific training and structured support, please get in touch with myself (or one of my amazing colleagues) by contacting:

driving-change@kennywastemanagement.co.uk

Kenny Waste Blog Header

 

Additional Resources

Both the business and our Social Enterprise are committed to providing a work environment with a strong culture that puts health and safety first, mental as well as physical. I am pleased to share that Kenny Waste Management has taken on a brilliant partnership with We Are Wellbeing, a step we decided to take to ensure our employees always have access to the right level of support. This partnership has been all about enabling our managers to further support their teams, to look past labels, build confidence, and maintain good levels of health and wellbeing.

In the spirit of sharing resources to support one another, our team has pulled together a list of free professional services that are available to help right now. If you or someone you know could use some help, there is always someone you can talk to:

Loneliness: Samaritans (116 123)

Alcohol: Drinkline (0300 123 1110)

Debt: National Debtline (0808 808 4000)

Grief: Cruse (0800 808 1677)

Drugs: Frank (0300 123 6600)

Relationships: Relate (0300 003 0396)

Gambling: GamCare (0808 8020 133)

Suicide: Calm (0800 58 58 58)

Anxiety: Mind (0300 123 3393)

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