Stuart Hicks, CEO of the Institute of Roofing (IOR), discusses the role of learning in improving mental wellbeing and outlines what training and support is available.
Looking after our mental health has never been more important. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has made life more challenging and stressful than ever before, and research shows that this is having an adverse effect on our wellbeing. A survey carried out last year by mental health charity, Mind, revealed that more than half of adults and over two thirds of young people felt their mental health had deteriorated during lockdown.
As the pandemic continues to affect our everyday lives and with uncertain times still ahead, finding ways to manage and improve mental health is crucial.
The power of learning
As recommended by the NHS, gaining a new skill is one important step you can take to improve mental wellbeing. This stems from research which revealed the positive effects of learning. Not only can it help to boost self-confidence and build a sense of purpose, but it can help people to cope better with stress and become more motivated.
At the moment, days can seem long, unproductive and unstructured. Setting a new goal can offer a sense of achievement, the chance for some positivity, and a way to connect with others albeit digitally.
A new skill could take many forms and be as simple as learning a new recipe or alternatively, there are many online courses available that could also help.
Opportunities for learning
Developing knowledge is a key part of what the Institute does, and we’re working hard to maintain that level of momentum within our industry, to encourage people to train to a certain level, learn new skills and enhance their CVs. This is especially important during the current climate as job uncertainty and competition for new roles has increased during the turbulence of the pandemic.
In addition to providing industry-specific training, the IOR’s online member benefits portal also offers a huge range of courses in categories including creative arts and media, nature and environment, life skills, technology and health and psychology – to name just a few.
They provide an extensive range of opportunities to learn all sorts of different skills which can be applied at home or in the workplace. For example, some of the most popular online courses currently cover topics including Construction Quality Management, Foundations of Project Management, Excel Skills for Business, and How Financial Wellness Reduces Stress.
Members are also encouraged to use the portal’s tools to share the information and knowledge with colleagues, family and friends.
As anxiety increases as a result of the pandemic, exploring opportunities for more specialist training is another option. There is a variety of guidance available online offering support specifically in relation to coping with the impact of Covid-19.
For example, one of the courses available through the IOR’s portal focuses on managing mental health during Covid-19.
Offered by the University of Toronto, the course takes around three hours to complete. It aims to give people a deeper understanding of anxiety and how the brain reacts to crises. Clear strategies are provided for managing and turning off the anxiety response for short periods. Topics covered include achieving relaxation, mental distraction, managing news consumption, guarding against depression and the importance of control.
There is also a course on helping young people with anxiety. This includes advice on how to identify anxiety disorders experienced by young people and understand stigma related to mental health.
Learning is just one way to help improve mental health. There is lots of information online offering further guidance. Many charities such as Mind, Time to Change, and Rethink Mental Illness, offer free resources to support business owners and individuals. These can range from fact sheets and action plans through to ideas for activities and specialist toolkits.
The FSB (The Federation of Small Businesses) has also launched Covid-19 advice and guidance for SMEs and the self-employed. This includes various checklists to help people look after their mental health.
In addition, Mates in Mind, a charity which promotes positive mental wellbeing across workplaces, offers a remote working checklist including the latest updates and guidance around best workplace practice. The charity has also produced Homeworking Mental Health Tips.
For further information on the learning opportunities available through the IOR, visit: www.instituteofroofing.org