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Supporting apprentices with their mental health

28 Sep 2018

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It is estimated that around one in ten young people in the UK are affected by issues with their mental health. This can include conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm and bipolar disorder.

Pressures on young people today, whether linked to challenges at school, work or in their personal lives, have resulted in a substantial rise in the number of people in this age group accessing NHS mental health services over recent years.

Help is also available from the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service for Apprentices for any young people on, or transitioning into, an apprenticeship. The service delivered by Remploy, the disability, employment and skills specialists, is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions

It supports individuals with depression, anxiety, stress or other mental health issues and provides confidential work or apprenticeship-focused mental health support tailored to an individual's needs.

Chris Kingsbury, Partnerships Manager for the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service for Apprentices said: “Many young people don’t realise they are experiencing symptoms of mental ill health or are not aware that there is something wrong. They are also afraid to openly talk about it. It can be especially challenging with the increased use of social media, which is available 24 hours a day and can add additional strain to a young person's mental health.”

He added: “An apprenticeship is such a fantastic opportunity enabling young people to build a long lasting and fruitful career. It is critically important that a young person facing mental health challenges has the same opportunity to complete their apprenticeship as their peers. If this is not addressed appropriately, it could have a negative long-term impact on their life.” 

Since the age of 14, Mark Woolman has struggled to cope with anxiety and depression, leading him to avoid social situations and isolate himself from people.  

Mark, who is now 23 years old and lives with his mum in Leicester, is taking steps forward on a Customer Service Advisor apprenticeship. He’s also managing his mental health with help from the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service for Apprentices. 

Mark said: “I was very anxious at first but my Vocational Rehabilitation Coach Kiran has been very supportive. We worked together to decide what I needed to do to manage my depression and anxiety going forward. This included keeping a mood diary which I have been doing and establishing methods of coping when I feel overwhelmed.”

Mark, who is completing his apprenticeship with the Employer Services team at Remploy added: “There’s no reason people shouldn’t be given opportunities, I’m capable of working and the only reason I would have struggled is because I find job applications and interviews really difficult. Having a mental health condition doesn’t mean you can’t be a really good employee. I appreciate working in an environment where people understand that and encourage me to progress; I hope I can repay their faith in me.”

Chris Kingsbury added: “Young people need access to tailored, individual support to help them overcome any mental health challenges they face. We need to encourage young people to talk about good and bad mental health and know they can seek help when they need it. We all face challenges to our mental health at different times in our life, it is important young people feel they can be open about this and know there is support out there for them, if and when they need it.”

Contact Remploy for support

To qualify for the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service for Apprentices, an individual should be on an apprenticeship programme (attending, signed off sick or with an official start date) and have a mental health condition (diagnosed or undiagnosed) that has resulted in absence, or is causing them difficulties in continuing or starting their apprenticeship. There is no charge for the service.

If you would like to qualify a young person or for further information contact Remploy on 0300 456 8210 or email apprentices@remploy.co.uk.