National Stress Awareness Day: Call for government to extend mindfulness programme

Apprentices’ wellbeing should be supported with self-help tools like mindfulness, says Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation (GMLPF).

An All-Party Parliamentary Group recently debated on the pros and cons on the ancient Buddhist practice, which involves paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you. 

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James Glendenning CEO of GMLPF, said the organisation has already trialled a number of wellbeing sessions for its apprentices and trainees — and the success of its pilot means another programme of workplace support more may now be on the way.​ As a result, the parliamentary group is calling for mindfulness pilot projects to be introduced into three schools.

“While we welcome the news that ministers are now considering the universal benefits of this practice, we believe they should be extended to include apprenticeships, traineeships and study programmes.”

The six week ‘You Only Live Once’ Programme (YOLO) was aimed at students who were defined as not being in education, employment or training prior to enrolling and often have a poor record of participation in learning, low levels of confidence and self-esteem and low levels of attainment. Typically, the factors that account for an individual being NEET include: Poverty and low levels of household income and bad health in general, including poor mental health.

Students experienced a range of wellbeing sessions from meditation to nutritional advice, with the programme’s principle aim being to unlock their current and future potential.

A relatively high proportion of people entering apprenticeships and other vocational routes into employment are not in full time education, employment or training and may be additionally vulnerable to stress, anxiety or depression. 

These conditions were specifically addressed in the programme, which was run by Saeed Olayiwola. Saeed helped participants set their own personal objectives. The primary goal was to build self-confidence and develop mindfulness while learning the benefits of self-motivation and a healthy lifestyle.

Glendenning said the growing importance of apprenticeships to our economy makes it imperative that they are adequately resourced and supported. 

“Skills Minister Nick Boles has said apprenticeship reforms are helping to build the modern highly skilled workforce British businesses need. Addressing issues such as wellbeing in the workplace can certainly assist in achieving that target of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020,” Mr Glendenning added.

He said a physically and mentally healthy workforce delivers increased productivity and job commitment, in addition to helping safeguard the taxpayer investment.

Research from Britain’s Healthiest Company shows that almost three quarters (73 per cent) of employees in the UK suffer from at least one dimension of work-related stress, with time pressure being cited as the biggest contributing factor.

Greg Levine, Director of Corporate Healthcare at VitalityHealth added: “Long working hours, lengthy commutes, high demands and constant connectivity to mobile devices have become typical attributes of the modern day office environment, and it is only natural that employees are becoming increasingly stressed as a result. 

“Stress has been proven to significantly decrease staff productivity. While many organisations are beginning to offer stress management programmes more can be done, and National Stress Awareness Day should act as a wake-up call for employers to invest in the health and wellbeing of staff.”


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