TOM WHEELHOUSE PODCAST: The impact on officers leaving the police service.

Tom Wheelhouse spent several years in the Metropolitan police service and one of his career highlights was working on the 2012 London Olympics. However he soon came to realise that his dream job was becoming a nightmare and after careful thought handed in his resignation due to the toxic work atmosphere he found himself in.
With no job and no plan he managed to find work in the commercial sector for several years before realising what he really wanted to do was to help people who found themselves in the same situation he was in years earlier.

He set up his own company Mightify who assist police officers who have left the service after retirement or through resignation. Tom reminds us that there is a life worth living after leaving the police and give tips of how not to sell ourselves short when going for work. We also talk about the potential pitfalls surrounding mental health and the loss of identity when people leave.

You can find Toms website Mightify here (

Mental health awareness days won’t fix bad bosses and insecure work

AuthorKathryn MackridgePublished date01 Nov 2019The causes of poor mental health at work must be tackled by employers, not made the responsibility of workers.

We spend a significant amount of our adult life at work. In fact, UK workers work longer hours than any other country in Europe .

Long hours coupled with the longest pay squeeze since Victorian times and a rise in insecure work can impact on workers’ stress levels, mental health and wellbeing. 

HSE statistics published this week show 602,000 workers are suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing, 2018/19), with workload cited as the most common reason.

The UK’s labour market in the 21stcentury is increasingly precarious for many, with a proliferation of zero-hours contracts and one-way employer flexibility meaning more workers having to take on additional jobs or hours to make ends meet.

A lack of control over working hours, worries about paying the bills and rising insecurity can cause huge amount of stress for workers, and negatively impact peoples’ mental health and wellbeing.

And young workers are disproportionately impacted by these trends.

Fewer employment rights, especially for young workers

Poor mental health does not exclusively impact on young people.

But evidence shows an increase in common mental health conditions in children and young people, with one in six young people aged 16 to 24 presenting symptoms of a common mental health disorder such as depression or an anxiety.

Young workers are overrepresented in low-paying jobs and insecure work, such as zero-hours contracts, agency and casual work.

We found that 40 per cent of workers of agency contracts or in casual work are aged 16 – 24, and 36 per cent of workers on zero-hours contracts are aged under 25.

Insecure work means missing out on some core workplace rights too, and low pay means we may not be eligible for statutory sick pay, meaning we can’t take time off work when we feel ill or stressed. 8 in 10 zero-hours contract workers don’t receive sick pay, even though 76 per cent say this is an important or very important right to have.

Employers don’t take responsibility

The national conversation about mental health and wellbeing at work has progressed in many ways.

However employers are increasingly signing up to “awareness days” and “wellbeing initiatives” without investing in the resources, policies and training to support them.

These initiatives often encourage workers to divulge mental health issues, and focus on fixing the individual through “resilience”, rather than recognising the drivers of stress and poor mental health as a workplace issue that should be tackled collectively.

Posters encouraging workers to talk about their mental health issues is not an inherently bad idea, but only if the support is there – trade union recognition, a robust sickness policy, a fair disciplinary and grievance process.

Disclosing poor health to hostile employers can open workers up for discrimination, with an expectation that anxiety or depression are things that can be “fixed” within a given time period, if only the worker just “pushed some boundaries” and “kept smiling” (sadly, these are recent, real world examples).

Similarly, yoga classes, free fruit and playing with cute puppies can be fun, but they are also a lot cheaper for employers than cutting out zero-hours contracts, flexible working and paying the real living wage, whilst still seemingly looking like they care about staff wellbeing.

Austerity means there’s nowhere left to turn

Mental health services, like too many areas of the public sector, have experienced an unprecedented funding squeeze, leaving services understaffed and overstretched. 

Four fifths of finance directors of NHS Trusts say financial pressures have led to people waiting longer to get help from mental health services in the past two years alone

This has meant fewer people being able to access the critical help and services when they need them most.

Trade unions leading the way

We have seen huge improvements to health, safety and wellbeing law at work thanks to campaigning by trade unions.

But this progress, particularly around mental health and wellbeing, doesn’t always manifest in the workplace. Reps report that workplace stress continues to be the number one health and safety concern at work.

Every day unions are supporting members, negotiating better policies and holding employers to account on mental health in the workplace.

As well as continuing and expanding this great work, we must force employers and the government to tackle the causes of workplace stress and poor mental health at the source.

This means getting a £10 an hour living wage banning zero-hour contracts and stamping out harassment and abuse at work. Staying healthy and happy at work is not down to individual workers to figure out on their own.

Young Workers Month starts on 1 November and runs until the end of the month. It provides a dedicated, annual space for the movement to work together to give voice to young workers. #youngworkersmonth

If stress at work is interfering with your performance or personal life, take action

The workplace can sometimes feel like an emotional roller coaster.

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WE HAVE ALL experienced stress in the workplace at one time or another. Even when we’re lucky enough to love what we do, it’s normal to experience some level of stress throughout the day.

In today’s busy world, the workplace can sometimes feel like an emotional roller coaster. Long hours, tight deadlines, and ever-increasing demands can leave us feeling worried, drained, and overwhelmed.

When stress exceeds our ability to cope, it stops being helpful and starts causing damage to our mind. It can make us feel anxious and overwhelmed, dampening our job satisfaction and productivity.

If stress on the job is interfering with your work performance, health, or personal life, it’s time to take action.

We encourage all our clients, customers, staff and students to take regular ‘booster’ breaks – 15 minutes, or whatever you can spare, to unwind, away from phone calls, computers, TVs, and smartphones. Whether that time is spent reconnecting with colleagues, taking a walk, reading a book or listening to music.

No matter what you do for a living, or how stressful your job is, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your overall stress levels and regain a sense of control at work.

Implementing some of the following practices will help:

Take care of your body

Eating well is key to overall health, including your mental well-being. Be sure to eat nutritious meals, drink plenty of water and get enough sleep. Getting too little or too much sleep can have a big impact on how you feel.

Stay active

Exercise offers many benefits and when you exercise; your brain releases the feel-good chemicals, endorphins, giving you an instant mood boost. From going for a long walk and participating in outdoors sports to taking a fitness class, there are hundreds of ways you can be active.

Regardless of your age and fitness level, exercise can make you feel good about yourself, as well as protect you from all kinds of health problems. Even 10 minutes of exercise every day can have a positive impact on both your physical and mental health.

Connect with family, friends and colleagues

Have people around you that matter and enrich your life. Build relationships with the people around you and invest time connecting with people at home, work and in your community.

A great level of social support and encouragement is essential for your happiness and emotional health, even if it’s just from a handful of people.

Value yourself

Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and do something you enjoy. Whether it’s taking a long walk, doing a daily crossword or going to the cinema, it’s positive for your wellbeing to do something that makes you feel good.

Set realistic goals

Aim high, but be realistic. Create realistic goals and take steps to achieve them. Even small steps are a sign of progress. Keep moving forward.

Don’t be a hero

If you over-commit by taking on too many projects with unrealistic deadlines, you will not only lose credibility at work but you will also stress yourself out unnecessarily. If you can delegate or share the responsibility for some projects, go ahead.

Take your 15

Booster breaks, whether they are 15 minutes or five, have been proven to reduce stress, fatigue and mental pressure. Making time for regular breaks, regardless of how busy you are, will make a real difference to your productivity, job satisfaction and overall well-being.

Get help when you need it

Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. Don’t think that you’re wasting someone’s time; it’s always OK to accept that you’re not always able to cope. We all need help and support from time to time.

Elbha Purcell is head of dietetics and well-being at Aramark Northern Europe, which is running its TAKE15 campaign during the month of October. 

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