As part of the Department’s commitment to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland’s Mental Health Charter, and the supporting of the mental health and wellbeing of staff, the DfI WELL Champion organised a Mental Health Training course for line managers.
This was organised to help promote World Mental Health Day which is held annually on 10 October.
The training course, held in Clarence Court on Wednesday 9 October, was open to all departmental line managers in Belfast city centre. The training was delivered by Kieran Devlin, NICS Sports Association, and attended by 19 line managers at all grades. The course was well-received by those who attended.
Robert Crawford, Departmental Co-ordination Unit, was one of the attendees who gave his views on the training.
“We were encouraged to consider the impact of our environment, within and outside work, and to become more aware of how the circumstances of others, invisible to us, might be affecting their performance and behaviour. Some of the exercises were designed to help us understand how we are all different and, amazingly, have very different reasons for being in the civil service.
"The course offered ideas for managing our own mental health including mindfulness, how we can change our thinking and the impact that can have, and how we can create an effective boundary between work and non-work, both in thinking and in our activities. The impact of social media was a particular issue.
“To help others, there was an emphasis on the importance of active listening, to give people space to express thoughts and feelings and to provide support for that. What struck me from the discussion was how many of us were attending to get guidance on how to deal with a real and specific issue in work - how to help colleagues having difficulties and to improve our support for them. That desire to help speaks well of the willingness of DfI colleagues to help each other.
"At the course, we learned that 31% of employees have reported they have been 'formally diagnosed' with a mental health condition at some point in their lives, while 60% have said that they had experienced a mental health issue due to work or where work was a contributing factor.
"We were challenged to think about how we could become better managers. As managers, we have a responsibility to do so. I would encourage colleagues to develop their understanding of this issue as a priority. This is not just a box to tick.”
Other attendees' feedback included:
Brian Cormican, Transport Legislation: “The mental health training was brilliant in highlighting the different aspects of mental health and raising the awareness of its impact. I also appreciated how it helped you realise the different perspectives of colleagues and how they approached and looked at issues.”
Chris McLaughlin, Safe and Accessible Travel: “I found this course very useful, explaining mental health issues and providing signposting for staff.”
David Mullan, Transport Regulation Unit: “The training course was superb in that it removed the fear of getting involved in a topic I previously felt I didn’t understand. The clarity provided showed that monitoring factors that affect mental health doesn’t need to be complex and that the support for those around us is much more than our responsibilities as line managers. Simple steps can be taken to support staff, colleagues, friends, family and ourselves.”
Cindy Noble, Roads and Rivers Consultancy Services: “Engaging and informative session which was very well delivered. The course provides an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health and wider wellbeing issues and gives some practical signposts to starting conversations and seeking help.”