How to proactively engage with students with mental ill health

Sep 8, 2021 | Development

Understanding more about mental ill health has become a hot topic for many employers. Lise Austen, MyPlus Recruiters’ Club Manager, explains why organisations should be focusing on it when it comes to early years recruitment.

With increasing numbers of students experiencing poor mental health understanding more about

this topic and how students can be supported into the workplace is vital for employers to understand. MyPlus, experts in disability employment, strongly advocate that all organisations need to be considering it as part of their early years recruitment strategy or face being left with a talent deficit.

Mental health is something we all have however there are increasing numbers of individuals experiencing mental ill health; this includes, but is not limited to, conditions such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, bi-polar and personality disorders. For students, the transition from education into the workplace will be one of the most stressful times of their life with student debts and the cost of living higher than ever and students comparing jobs and salaries on social media all of this will be adding to the pressures of finding a job.   

How prevalent is mental ill health?

  • 1 in 4 of us will experience poor mental health at some point during our lifetime
  • 1 in 6 of the working age population will be experiencing poor mental health right now


Mental ill health amongst students

  • 76% of young job seekers say that they have experienced poor mental health * CMHA, February 2020 research of over 500 early careers job seekers expectations of the recruitment process.
  • 68% are not aware of any mental health or well-being support offered by the employers that they are applying to. *CMHA February 2020 research
  • 67% think employers are not doing enough to support their employee’s mental wellbeing * Bright Network, early 2021 research of over 15,000 members
  • 91% are more likely to apply to an employer that shows a commitment to supporting their mental health and wellbeing. *CMHA February 2020 research
  • 48% of graduates will actively research a company’s commitment to diversity before applying. *Bright Network 2021 research
  • 72% of young job seekers think that talking to a prospective employer about a mental health issue would hurt their chances of getting a job. **CMHA February 2020 research

 You have probably seen or heard the first 2 of these stats before. For employers, when you put them in the context of your potential talent pool and consider; if your processes are not geared up to look after the wellbeing of applicants and employees with mental ill health they may not excel during the recruitment process or thrive in their roles.

These stats also highlight that it is more important than ever for employers to be proactive in how they market themselves as an employer of choice to those with disabilities, including those with poor mental health. Failure to do so will result in students with mental ill health either not applying to you or not being successful in their application; either way, you will be left with a serious talent deficit.

To be inclusive of this talent pool, employers must not only demonstrate that they are committed to employing students with mental ill health but also to encourage them to be open and to request the support they need during the recruitment process.

Reducing the stigma around mental health

At MyPlus we always say that employers don’t need to be an expert in every disability, and this also applies to mental ill health. The individual with the disability or mental ill health is the expert and will know what support they need to be able to excel in the job. The key for an employer is that you create the environment where candidates can be open and request the support they require.

For early years recruitment all touch points throughout the recruitment process should reflect your being a mentally healthy employer; this includes having information on your website, included in your collateral and ensuring your employees who engage with, or interview, potential candidates with mental ill health are confident to do so. Training staff is vital to help them build their confidence in this area. It is also important to visibly promote support available such as employee networks, wellbeing support and encouraging employees with mental ill health to be visible role models.

For more information, have a look at CMHA’s 8 standards for mentally healthy recruitment and induction in early careers, which is based on input from businesses and mental health experts. Their simple roadmap highlights how to design a mentally healthy recruitment and induction process accelerating the journey to building a mentally healthy workplace.

By learning more about the subject of mental ill health, organisations will remove the stigma, fear and silence that exists around the subject. It will build your confidence and boost your reputation as an inclusive employer and ensure that all individuals, regardless of their disability or mental ill health, will have access to your organisation and feel valued from their very first interaction.

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