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In brief: Families 'severely let down' by investigations into learning disability deaths

Top story Bereaved families severely let down by investigations into deaths of loved ones in mental health services

The charity Inquest has released a report finding that families bereaved by the deaths of loved ones in mental health services face numerous challenges, including a serious lack of transparency in investigations.

The researchers interviewed 14 families of people who had died in mental health services or facilities for people with autism or a learning disability.

The report found that delays, secrecy, and animosity towards families looking for truthful accounts of what happened to their relatives were commonplace.

Concerns raised by families included a lack of candour, transparency, and accountability, as well as poor communication from investigators.

Families said they wanted changes to address these issues.

Inquest Director Deborah Coles said:

“Successive governments have been repeatedly warned that the investigation system is not fit for purpose. Inquest’s casework shows that this is a systemic problem and not isolated to one rogue trust or provider.”

Number of mental health sick days for ambulance crews rockets as crews are ‘stretched to breaking point’

Figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that the number of sick days ambulance staff in England are taking has rocketed, increasing by 38% over two years.

In 2022, this amounted to 250,000 sick days related to mental health last year, compared with 188,134 in 2020.

Staff shortages caused by the pandemic have put technicians, paramedics, and call handlers under unprecedented pressure.

One in 16 of England’s NHS ambulance workers took time off for conditions such as anxiety, stress, and depression last year, equivalent to 1,100 staff.

Paramedic Psychological Health Manager at the College of Paramedics, Jo Mildenhall:

“Increased demand, reduced resources, and queuing at emergency departments have put workers under huge stress.

“Mental ill health, including burnout, stress, psychological trauma and moral injury, is a rising and significant issue, and without further investment into addressing the causative factors and providing additional interventions and supports, we are likely to see the issue increase further.”

The financial industry struggles to maintain employees due to poor mental health support

A new study of 1,000 employees in the financial services sector has found that 83% have considered changing jobs due to the impact of work on their mental health, with almost half actually doing so.

The study, by Mental Health First Aid, also found that 60% of employees feel their employer could do more to support their mental health and well-being.

Additionally, one in four employees said they are not comfortable discussing their mental health with their manager, with a similar number citing a lack of managerial support, and one in five pointing to company culture as a negative factor affecting their mental health.

The survey found that half of finance employees believed that the cost of living was the biggest threat to their mental health over the next six months.

The report argues that organisations need to normalise conversations about mental health and provide more support for employees, including better flexibility and more training for managers.

Workplace Lead at Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, Vicki Cockman said:

“Our research shows the clear link between mental health and talent retention. Employers should act now to identify their organisation’s needs and put the right provision in place to create a healthy culture for staff. Acting early will help to prevent a deepening talent crisis.

“Managers have a clear role to play. They are one of the most influential factors on team culture, people’s well-being and business performance. Managers need to feel confident and empowered to drive positive well-being across their teams. It is time to give them the training and support they need.”

Retail workers want more support from employers for mental wellbeing

The newly published UK-wide Health, well-being & habits study has found that 80% of retail professionals want their company to be more proactive in boosting employee health and well-being.

Additionally, a third of retail workers have experienced increased anxiety over the past year, with 23% citing excessive stress.

Possible solutions include training managers to provide better support (38%), promoting the use of sick leave (33%), and training to build skills in stress management (26%).

The study also revealed that almost a third of general employees have worked when experiencing poor mental health instead of taking sick leave.

Life and Career Coach Claire Brown commented:

“Employees must be encouraged to prioritise their health and well-being above productivity by taking regular breaks from the screen and getting fresh air, where possible. Providing alternative and innovative ways for connection and communication between team members is also really valuable.

“As always, communication is key. It’s important for employers to be fair and realistic about what is possible and provide practical support to help team members manage their workloads.”

Money and Mental Health responds to Government’s Gambling White Paper

The Government published plans this week in its Gambling White Paper which outlines how it intends to make gambling regulation “fit for the digital age.”

It includes plans to introduce player protections that check and stake limits for online slots, and a compulsory levy on gambling establishments that requires them to pay for addiction treatment.

Helen Undy, Chief Executive of the Money and Mental Health Institute, commented on the proposals:

“We’re pleased to see the government propose significant steps to reduce the financial and psychological harm gambling can cause and to support those at risk. In particular, we welcome the plans for a statutory levy on gambling operators to fund better support services and research, and the focus on making online gambling safer by introducing limits and considering restricting features such as excessive speed of play. These features can be particularly harmful for people with mental health problems who are more likely to struggle with impulse control and to access help to stop gambling.

“But the lack of measures to restrict gambling advertising is disappointing, and we would like to see legislation go further by putting in place stronger affordability checks too. Having waited so long for the white paper, which has already had extensive input from industry as well as campaigners, it’s also frustrating that the government is putting so much of this out for consultation. That could mean that much-needed reforms are just kicked into the long-grass again – particularly with an election looming.”

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