Mental Wellbeing toolkit

We all have mental wellbeing, just as we have physical health, which can fluctuate on a spectrum from good to poor. Poor mental wellbeing can affect any of us irrespective of age, personality or background.

“1 in 5 people take a day off due to stress. Yet, 90% of these people cited a different reason for their absence” (2020)

Weston College is a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Centre for Excellence and a Queen’s Anniversary Prize winner for our outstanding inclusive practice.

This means we have a wealth of knowledge and expertise which we're keen to share with employers.

At Weston College we have specialist practitioners in mental wellbeing available to conduct workplace assessments and offer advice and guidance to not only the employee but employer, so please don’t hesitate to get in contact with the team to request this support.

Get in touch today to talk about how we can help support your organisation.

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Our specialist staff work closely with you to help you understand the needs of apprentices. This will allow you to match appropriate job roles with learners and enable them to work independently and autonomously.

It is important to remember that because mental health is like physical health, we all have it and need to take care of it.

To do this we have to be able to understand what good mental health is. Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel, and react in a way that you need and want to live your life. If you have poor mental health, how you think, feel or react become difficult, or even impossible to cope with, the impact of which can be significant.

There are many mental health problems, some diagnosed, some not. As an employer It is important to remember that there is a difference between a diagnosed mental health condition and words commonly used to describe how oneself is feeling. For example, there is a difference between having a clinical diagnosis of depression and using the word ‘depressed’ to describe feeling low.

As their employer it is vital to focus on the individual and how their condition may impact their work rather than their diagnosis. Below are some of most the commonly diagnosed mental health conditions and their symptoms:

• Depression: Depression is a feeling of low mood that lasts for a long time and affects everyday life. It can make someone feel hopeless, despairing, guilty, worthless, unmotivated and exhausted. It can affect self-esteem, sleep, appetite, sex drive and physical health. Depression is almost on a sliding scale at its mildest form. Depression doesn’t stop someone leading a normal life however it makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, depression can make someone feel suicidal, and be life-threatening. Some types occur during or after pregnancy (antenatal and postnatal depression) or may come back each year around the same time (seasonal affective disorder).

• Anxiety: Occasional anxiety is a normal human experience. Anxiety is what people feel when they are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which they think could happen in the future. If feelings of anxiety are very strong, or last for a long time, they can be overwhelming. Someone might also experience physical symptoms such as sleep problems and panic attacks. There are different diagnoses of anxiety such as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety (social phobia), panic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But it’s also possible to experience problems with anxiety without having a specific diagnosis.

• Panic attacks: Sudden, unexpected bouts of intense terror leading to difficulty breathing; rapid, pounding heartbeat; choking sensations; chest pain, trembling; feeling faint. The memory of a panic attack can provoke fear and trigger another.

• Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder. The term is often misused in daily conversation – for example, people may talk about being ‘a bit OCD’, if they like things to be neat and tidy, but the reality of this disorder is a lot more complex and serious. OCD has two main parts: obsessions (unwelcome thoughts, images, urges, worries or doubts that repeatedly appear in your mind), and compulsions (repetitive activities that you feel you must do to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsession).

• Phobias: A phobia is an extreme form of fear or anxiety triggered by a particular situation (such as going outside) or object (such as spiders), even when it’s very unlikely to be dangerous. A fear becomes a phobia if the fear is out of proportion to the danger. It can last for more than six months and has a significant impact on how you live your day-to-day life.

• Bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder (once called manic depression) mainly affects mood. With this diagnosis someone is likely to have times when they experience: manic or hypomanic episodes (feeling high); depressive episodes (feeling low); and potentially some psychotic symptoms. Everyone has variations in their mood, but in bipolar disorder these swings can feel very extreme and have a big impact on life. In between, there may be stable times where they experience fewer symptoms.

• Schizophrenia: Views on schizophrenia have changed over the years. Lots of people question whether it’s really a distinct condition, or actually a few different conditions that overlap, but a diagnosis may be given if someone experiences symptoms such as: psychosis (such as hallucinations or delusions), disorganised thinking and speech, feeling disconnected from your feelings, difficulty concentrating, wanting to avoid people, a lack of interest in things, not wanting to look after yourself.

• Personality disorders: Personality disorder is a type of mental health problem where your attitudes, beliefs and behaviours cause you long-standing problems in your life. If you have this diagnosis, it doesn’t mean that you’re fundamentally different from other people, but you may regularly experience difficulties with how you think about yourself and others and find it very difficult to change these unwanted patterns. There are several different categories and types of personality disorder, most people who are diagnosed with a particular personality disorder don’t fit any single category very clearly or consistently. Please be aware the term ‘personality disorder’ can sound very judgemental.

• Psychosis: Psychosis (also known as a psychotic experience or psychotic episode) is when you perceive or interpret reality in a very different way from people around you. You might be said to ‘lose touch’ with reality. The most common types of psychosis are hallucinations and delusions.

Please note that this is not an exhausted list as everyone’s mental health is unique to them as are the symptoms. It is important to not dismiss any symptoms due to everyone’s mental health being individual and unique.

Various aspects of work and the workplace can cause disadvantages for individuals with disabilities. The Equality Act states that employers must take reasonable steps to remove the disadvantage. The Equality Act 2010:

• Protects individuals with disabilities
• Places the duty on employers to address the disadvantages encountered at work by people with disabilities
• Encourages there to be a starting point to consideration of reasonable adjustment

By reasonable adjustment we mean taking each potential adjustment on an individual basis. Here are some factors to consider when making reasonable adjustments:

• the effectiveness of the adjustment in preventing the disadvantage
• the practicability of making the adjustment
• the extent to which making the adjustment would impact on service delivery
• financial and other costs
• the potential impact on colleagues.

“Mental ill health is responsible for 72 million working days lost and costs £34.9 billion each year” (2017)

Various aspects of work and the workplace can cause disadvantages for individuals with disabilities. The Equality Act states that employers must take reasonable steps to remove the disadvantage. The Equality Act 2010:

• protects individuals with disabilities
• places the duty on employers to address the disadvantages encountered at work by people with disabilities
• encourages there to be a starting point to consideration of reasonable adjustment .

By reasonable adjustment we mean taking each potential adjustment on an individual basis. Here are some factors to consider when making reasonable adjustments:

• the effectiveness of the adjustment in preventing the disadvantage
• the practicability of making the adjustment
• the extent to which making the adjustment would impact on service delivery
• financial and other costs
• the potential impact on colleagues.

Sometimes people who have mental health problems are treated unfavourably because of their mental health condition.

This is called discrimination and, if someone experiences it, they may have a legal right to challenge it. The Equality Act 2010 is the law that gives you the right to challenge discrimination.

To get protection under the Equality Act 2010, people must be able to show that their mental health problem is a disability. ‘Disability’ has a special meaning under the Act. The Equality Act protects from discrimination when someone:

• applies for work, is in a job, or leaves a job (see more information on discrimination at work
• uses services such as shops and hospitals
• deals with organisations carrying out public functions, such as tax collection and crime investigation
• is in education (including schools, colleges, and universities)
• buys or rents property (see more information on discrimination and premises
• joins some private clubs and associations.

Organisations that are public authorities also have special legal obligations under the public sector equality duty. More information on disability is available from:
Employers also have duties under health and safety legislation to assess the risk of stress related poor mental health arising from work activities and to take measures to control that risk.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Management Standards are designed to facilitate this. Available from:

If you have an employee that is is on the Autistic Spectrum it is important to make adjustments, as this will help reduce stress, increase morale and motivation, which may result in reduced staff turnover and sickness leave.

Effective changes within the workplace do not have to be expensive or time-consuming. It is often small organisational changes that can help an individual get the very best from their employees and make a dramatic difference.

It is important to discuss and identify with the employee what adjustments would be beneficial.

Things to consider include:

• flexible hours or change to start or finish times; change of workspace, for example quieter, more or fewer people around, dividing screens
• working from home at certain times or on certain days in each period
• changes to break times
• provision of quiet rooms
• lightbox or seat with more natural light
• agreement to give an employee time off for appointments related to their mental health, such as therapy and counselling
• temporarily changing duties, for example changing the balance of desk work and customer-facing work, reducing caseloads, changing shift patterns,
• reallocation of some tasks or amendments to the employee’s job description or duties
• redeployment to a more suitable role
• increased supervision or support from manager, buddy or mentor
• extra help with managing and negotiating workload
• debriefing sessions after difficult calls, customers or tasks
• mediation can help if there are difficulties between colleagues
• access to a mental health support group or disability network group
• identifying a ‘safe space’ in the workplace where the person can have some time out or access support
• provision of information to promote self-care
• encouraging employees to work on building up their resilience and doing things that support good mental health such as exercise, meditation or eating healthily
• providing regular opportunities to discuss, review and reflect on people’s positive achievements – this can help people to build up positive self-esteem and develop skills to manage better their triggers for poor mental health.
• complete a WAP (Wellness Action Plan).

Although employers are bound by the Equality Act 2010 to treat employees fairly, some demonstrate that they are particularly positive about employing and retaining disabled people and they demonstrate this by placing a' disability confident’ symbol on their job adverts.

The disability confident symbol is a government initiative, which aims to encourage an employer to make specific commitments regarding the employment of disabled people. These commitments are:

• To interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy and to consider them on their abilities
• To discuss with disabled employees, at any time but at least once a year, what both parties can do to make sure disabled employees can develop and use their abilities
• To make every effort when employees become disabled to make sure they stay in employment
• To take action to ensure that all employees develop the appropriate level of disability awareness needed to make these commitments work
• To review these commitments each year and assess what has been achieved, plan ways to improve on them and let employees and Jobcentre Plus know about progress and future plans.

If an employer engages in this scheme, an individual with a disability is guaranteed an interview if they meet the minimum conditions for the job vacancy.

Please visit:, to learn more about this scheme.

A WAP is:
• a personal proactive tool we can all use regardless If we have mental health or not
• it is a collaborative tool between employee and manager
• it helps us identify what can keep us well whilst at work
• what might cause us to become unwell
• what support the employee would like to receive (Reasonable adjustments).

WAP enable support to be tailored to the employee and ensures the manager has awareness of what may or may not help their employee which may reduce the likeliness of problems such as work-related stress or absences.
What should a WAP cover?

• approaches the staff member can adopt to support their mental well-being
• early warning signs of poor mental health to look out for
• aany workplace triggers for poor mental health on performance (if any)
• what support they need from you as their manager
• actions and positive steps for you will both take if your employee is experiencing stress or poor mental health
• an agreed time to review the WAP and any support measures which are in place
• anything else the individual feels would be useful in supporting their mental health at work.

It is important to note that WAP is not legally binding, however is intended to work as an agreement between employee and managers to encourage and support mental well-being within the workplace.

WAP templates are available for free from:

If you would like to learn more about different learning difficulties, Weston College offer a range of online CPD courses to further your knowledge and understanding. Courses on offer include:

• Awareness of Mental Health Certificate (level 2)
• Behaviour that Challenges (level 2)
• Specific Learning Difficulties (level 2)
• Understanding Autism (level 2)
• Working with Learners with Specific Learning Disabilities (level 2)
• Working with People with Mental Health Needs (level 2)


Alternatively, if you would like any bespoke training delivered in a specific area please don’t hesitate to contact the apprenticeship support team to discuss this further.

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Take a look at this powerful film made by the staff of Weston College to show how important it is for everyone from different backgrounds to be included. The film shares heartfelt stories and interviews with a diverse group of staff, showing how accepting different identities and backgrounds can make a big difference. Its purpose is to encourage viewers to think about their own biases and work towards making our community more welcoming to all. We invite everyone, regardless of their background, to join us and be a part of our journey toward a more inclusive future.

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Our workplace champions the right of staff to embrace all Afro-hairstyles. We acknowledge that Afro-textured hair is an important part of our Black employees’ racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious identities, and requires specific styling for hair health and maintenance. We celebrate Afro-textured hair worn in all styles including, but not limited to, afros, locs, twists, braids, cornrows, fades, hair straightened through the application of heat or chemicals, weaves, wigs, headscarves, and wraps. In this workplace, we recognise and celebrate our colleagues’ identities. We are a community built on an ethos of equality and respect where hair texture and style have no bearing on an employee's ability to succeed.