Stress and Mental Health Pandemic

The UK is Experiencing a Deepening Stress and Mental Health and Pandemic – But Is There a Solution? 

The Problem

The recent covid pandemic, associated lockdown periods of isolation, the impact that has had on employment (people losing their jobs and businesses as companies struggled), plus many other variables, has seen an increase in mental health related issues. 

In the Financial Times, November 22nd 2022 issue, it highlighted that: 

“Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP’s) have found themselves facing a swelling wave of complex mental health problems brought to them by people with nowhere else to turn”, with “high risk calls becoming a daily occurrence, ranging from child or adult safeguarding concerns to someone who “might have taken a significant amount of pills, or they might be standing on a bridge”

In the same article it told the story of Andrew Kinder, head of mental health services at Optima Health, another EAP, who ran an online seminar about bereavement for the employees of one client. He expected about 40 attendees, but 1,200 logged on. 

Other things highlighted in the article wer:

“Antidepressant usage is also on the rise. In 2021/22, 8.3mn patients received at least one prescription item for antidepressant drugs in England, according to NHS data — 22 per cent more than in 2015/16.”

On Thursday 13 October 2022, a BMA article  stated:

“Worrying analysis by the doctor’s union found that the number of children and young people in contact with mental health services since 2016 has expanded at almost four times the pace of the psychiatry workforce2. 

The number in contact with child and adolescent mental health services (CAHMS) has increased fourfold since April 2016, with figures now close to 400,000 people per month, showing just how stark the situation has become.”

The article went on to state:

“We are also seeing a steady rise in demand on adult services since the start of the pandemic, with over 1m people in contact with these services each month, which is adding to the overall pressure on the system3.  The serious shortages in psychiatry, with 1 in 7 planned Full Time Equivalent (FTE) roles currently vacant, means that many children, young people, and adults are simply not getting the timely care they need. 

The doctor’s union is deeply worried that the situation is likely to worsen as the rising cost of living drives up the number of people needing treatment for their mental health. BMA analysis found that the areas of highest economic deprivation have over double the number of people in contact with mental health services compared to the most affluent areas.  

Doctor’s leaders warn that this could spell disaster for mental health services if the Government continues to fail to tackle worsening poverty levels by refusing to increase benefits in line with rising prices; benefits that are already worryingly low to begin with.” 

The article went further on to say: “Commenting on the latest figures, BMA mental health policy lead, Dr Andrew Molodynski said:   

“These shameful statistics confirm that the mental health crisis in this country is spiralling out of control and is failing some of the most vulnerable in society, as workforce capacity cannot keep pace with demand.”

Stress Costs UK Employers £58 Billion a Year

This in turn has a direct impact on our country’s productivity with stress alone – as I reported in a blog post on the 29th November – is also on the increase costing UK employers £58 Billion a year –  

In a ‘Working Minds’ Podcast with Professor Cary Cooper, Professor Cooper stated: “I think, aside from anything else, our productivity per capita is pretty damn poor. We’re set bottom of the G7 on productivity per capita, tied with Italy. And we’re 17th in the G20 on productivity per capita. So it’s not just the health of employees, but it’s about our nation.”

There Is a Great Return On Investment Available

And in the same Podcast, HSE chair Sarah Newton said: “For every £1 an organisations spends they get it back 4 or 5 times for companies that really invest in the health and wellbeing of their staff.” 

To listen to the Podcast click here – 

Therefore, if employers were to invest more in the health and well-being of their staff, the return on that investment makes the cost of any investment redundant due to the increased productivity that will come as a result.

Many organisations are trying to do just that by offering their staff ‘Mental Health 1st Aid Training, but does that training work?

Does Mental Health 1st Aid Training Work?

Not according to the HSE, who have stated: “A number of knowledge gaps have been identified in this evidence review that mean it is not possible to state whether MHFA training is effective in a workplace setting”. 

So, what can be done and more importantly, how can it be measured for effectiveness?

The Solution

The following is feedback from some Quantum Thinking/Personal Change Management Training that I delivered for two Probation Service areas some years ago, that was measured against the Health & Safety Executive’s Stress Management Standards Survey Questionnaire.

Quantum Thinking/Personal Change Management Training Review & Feedback Training for Probation Service Management & Staff

Please note that the feedback for Probation Service Area 1 was independently collated and assessed by the Director of Health and Safety for that Service area. They have not been manipulated or amended by us and so represent an independent measure of the courses effectiveness by the commissioning Service area.

Probation Service Area 1

In Probation Service Area 1 it was also decided to use the HSE stress management standards survey questionnaire as a way of monitoring the impact of the training on the delegate’s perceptions of personal stress levels.

The HSE survey questionnaire consists of 35 questions that gauge stress levels against the HSE stress management standard areas.

Delegates were required to complete the survey questionnaire before the course and again at the end of the course. The results were analysed using the HSE analysis tool and the results are presented in table 3


7 courses have so far been provided, attended by 76 managers.

The course was monitored by an end of course evaluation sheet which showed extremely positive feedback from those attending (see Appendix 1 for a detailed analysis).

Table 3 HSE Stress Management Standard Results For Delegates

Management Standard Before After
Demands 2.58 2.96
Control 3.69 3.85
Managers Support 3.39 3.45
Peer Support 3.52 3.56
Relationships 3.54 3.74
Role 4.3 4.12
Change 3.19 3.23

“The results showed a discernible improvement in the delegates feeling of stress with levels improving in all but one of the categories and in 2 categories the combined rating moved from red to amber status. In addition the tool identified that before the course 16 delegates felt they were bullied sometimes, always or often, where as after the course only half this number 8, continued to feel they were being bullied sometimes, always or often.

Head of Health and Safety” – 31/3/08

“Using the HSE survey results for before and after there is a discernible shift in the results as a group.

For all bar one of the stress management categories the results improved. Also perhaps more importantly, before the course 4 of the standards were in the red “urgent action” zone whereas after only 2 were in the red zone.

One other interesting factor is that the tool identifies those reporting that they are subjected to bullying ‘always, often or sometimes’ and before the course 6 responses were flagged as being in this category whereas again after the course only 3 were still indicating they were in this category.”

Director of Health and Safety

Personal E-mail to the Director of Health and Safety

In addition to the above quantified feedback and delegate comments the following e-mail was sent to the Director of Health and Safety from one of the individuals who attended one of the courses in this probation service region:

“Hi Xxxx,

Feedback has been positive, and thanks for agreeing to have my team on the training course. My staff informed me that it was very useful + helpful. When I resumed here, as you may be aware, the team was doing very poorly and morale was very low. Most members remarked that they had grown to be “defensive, anxious, subscribed to the culture of negativity” and majority were considering leaving. However, after undertaking the training course, staff became more able to challenge their negative feelings, became more responsible for their work and actually put in effort to overturn our shortcomings in terms of performance.

The team now experiences good health, staff feel comfortable to express views within a safe environment and our performance has greatly improved. I am personally enjoying work and as I said to you I love my team because of their ability to make use of such opportunity.

Once again, thanks and I would recommend the course for all staff.”


“Hi Xxxxx

After Monday’s really excellent, thought-provoking course, I just wanted to give you some feedback now that all the information has had time to sink in.

The positive effects already for me are that I have changed three long-ingrained personal habits (in fact one was virtually an OCD issue). I’ve been regularly doing the breathing exercise at various intervals each day.

In terms of my own learning, the key things were the Breathing Exercise; the effects of words on water ie on us (largely being made of water); telling people what they can do, not what they can’t do; that happiness has a beneficial effect on the body; visualisation, re-framing bad memories etc. I also found the discussions about the brain fascinating, particularly the pharmaceutical production centre (hypothalamus) and how we become addicted to our emotions.

Having just completed the Post-Graduate Diploma in Change Management, I have to say that this was the perfect sort of course for me.

Many thanks.”

Probation Service Area 2

Please note that the feedback for Probation Service Area 2 was independently collated and assessed by the Human Resources and Training Manager for that Service area. The following comments have not been manipulated or amended by us and so represent an independent measure of the course’s effectiveness by the commissioning Service area.

“We commissioned a rolling programme of Personal Change Management. This was part of our action plan to address sickness absence and in particular stress-related absence in a proactive way.  15 sessions have been run to date attended by 215 members of staff. Managers were actively encouraged to try to ensure staff who had raised concerns over stress were encouraged to attend. Positive feedback was received from a number of those attending in terms of how their perceptions and reactions to change/stressful situations had been altered and how they felt empowered to deal with this. What was particularly pleasing was the number of unsolicited comments from individuals regarding the impact the day had made on them both on a personal and professional level.”

HR & Training Manager, Probation Service

A copy of a few of the ‘unsolicited e-mails’ received are as follows:

“I attended the above course yesterday and I wanted to let you know that it was one of the best courses I’ve been on and I for one will definitely benefit from it. I do think though that it should be mandatory for all staff.

The principle of the course was to show that we are all responsible for our own thoughts and feelings and to blame outside “forces”( e.g. the Service) for being in a stressed out state means we’re not managing ourselves – rather simplistic way of putting it but you get the drift!! Anyway, as we only completed the questionnaire provided by the company who is running the course (rather than the Service’s in-house one), I thought it important to contact you and share my views. I know the rest of my colleagues in yesterday’s group also felt it would benefit a lot of staff at all levels if this course was made mandatory.

I just wanted to let you know that C has been singing the praises of the training yesterday. If you know C you will know that in itself is an achievement! Both her and H are of the opinion that this is the best training the service has ever put on, and that everyone should attend.

I have already given the course rave reviews to all and sundry at the Blackpool office. My main comment being that I can’t believe the service shelled out the cash for such a worthwhile course and professional consultant!!”

[Name and contact details withheld]


“First of all – a big “Thanks” for the Personal Change Management course I attended yesterday.  At the end of the session I was chatting to Mark Dawes the trainer …  I found Mark as a person and a trainer was extremely interesting, helpful, inspiring and the material that he presented was so motivational.”

[Name and contact details withheld]


“Hi Mark

Just a quick email to thank you again for a fantastic day yesterday – like I said, I know I’m a bit of an enthusiast and was ready for finding out about NLP anyway, but even if I hadn’t been it would have been a great day and quite inspiring.

I bounced home, cuddled my youngest (tactile and emotional), talked to my middle son (verbal and analytical), and showed my daughter the diagrams I’d sketched on your handouts (visual). I tried to convey my excitement about what we’d discussed during the day, but they need to experience it for themselves, so it’ll be in the practice of it in daily life that we’ll see any changes. Me changing some of my language will make a difference and I just have to make sure I slow down enough to allow my awareness of situations to catch up and give me the space to choose words – does that make sense?

Thanks too for speaking to me about the children, especially xxx who is so passionate about things and finds life harder than his brother and sister. The hugging is helping, tho he’s looking at me a bit weird cos it’s out of character.

I also enthused to one of the rugby coaches who thinks that some kind of motivational NLP style session would be really interesting, and I plan to get in touch with the secretary of the club to see if anything could be arranged. Thanks so much for considering it as a possibility in the future. I’ll let you know if other people are as enthusiastic about it as I am.”

[Name and contact details withheld]

The following email is from a woman who was extremely nervous about giving a presentation to the Service’s Board members. I personally spent an extra hour working with her after the course to help her. Her e-mail post the course is below:

“Hiya Mark

Just to fill you in – I was one of the women you worked with after the Personal Change Management Course (Probation Service) on 24th October in Preston.  I haven’t yet done a presentation but I had to feedback to our Chief Officer, Board Members and some of our senior management team on some research I had undertaken. I just wanted you to know that I didn’t feel one bit nervous!!  A massive development for me! I have also since passed on the course information to my dad, who can be a very negative thinker and he has started to look at things more positively and said “it’s been like a breath of fresh air. Thanks for all your advice – definitely a life changing course which I would love to do again.”

[Name and contact details withheld]

The following is a copy of a letter received from one delegate who attended one of the open courses that we ran:

“Dear Mark,

I am writing for two reasons, firstly to thank you for a superb seminar on Quantum Thinking, but also to let you know the positive effect the day & information provided has had, not only on me but my family and friends.

That said, I have to admit that on the day, just before the start of the course, I was sceptical!

 Of course I understood that the brain works on a programmable basis and is responsible for our attitudes & responses to life situations, having understood that, it follows that what has been learnt on a conscious or subconscious level can be changed or modified. However I was not prepared for the impact that the day was going to have on me personally.

I listened to your introduction, delivered with enthusiasm, sincerity, where you explained the principles & most importantly the simplicity & speed with which changes could be effected in the brain, it all seemed too good to be true…. Surely one day can’t change your life!

Having known you & your work far many years now, and knowing that you do not & never have recommended anything that you do not believe in or have not researched thoroughly, I put aside my “cynicism”.

Just as well I did. 

I consider myself to be a semi intelligent person, not given to “flights of fancy” or “pie in the sky” ideas but none the less open-minded.

The concept & explanations offered were so simple & straightforward that my mind was racing & actually looking for a more complicated structure to it all.

I know that is a contradiction in terms, but it illustrates perfectly part of my own “belief system” that “everything in life is complicated” & “nothing is easy”. By the way after having digested the information and tried out the techniques taught, I no longer think that way, so one up straight away for Quantum Thinking.

On a very personal level, I have to say that, in common with most people in the world today, the general problems we encounter in life had taken its toll on me. My self-confidence & self-image had taken a real beating, particularly over the last ten years or so. Ten years, that’s a long time to be unhappy, isn’t it?

Some examples:

I constantly lived in the past, going over old ground & fretting over things that happened years ago.

I kept looking for explanations as to why my life had taken “the wrong road” from an emotional point of view.

I wondered why I was not as productive & creative in the business world as I once had been.

I had considered myself a failure in many areas of my life, although to everyone else I seemed happy, confident & capable.

I had put on a lot of weight through overindulging in the wrong foods & alcohol.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

When I started implementing the ideas you had recommended, it is true to say that my whole world changed.


I don’t live in the past, I live in the now. I still look at the past, but with a different attitude.

I am virtually worry free, although the same problems exist, I don’t focus on the problem anymore, I focus on the solution.

My creativity has returned with a vengeance & I have recently finished writing a one-day course for Cabaret Performers. This I had been promising to do for months! This is due to my confidence & creative side returning.

As a result of an improved self-image I have changed my eating & drinking habits, take regular exercise & lost over a stone in weight (which incidentally takes to almost to the same weight I was in my early twenties, I am FIFTY ONE NOW!)

My confidence in my own abilities has returned & improved my business & therefore my income

Mark, I could go on & on, but this illustrates some of the changes that modifying my thinking & “reprogramming” my brain has brought about.

I wholeheartedly believe that the Quantum Thinking Programme is so powerful that it is almost scary to see what can be achieved in a short space of time & indeed where it will lead me in the future. But it can only be for the good.

My home life & relationships have improved because I have changed… WOW 

So convinced am I of the effectiveness of this, I have passed on your course notes to family & friends who I felt would benefit from this. I told them only to read the material; I did not try to force my experiences on them as a way of justifying why they should read it.

As a result of this:

Two of my relations who have suffered from long-term depression have managed to “step down” their medication.

And a friend of mine who has a “constant & debilitating” fear of issues relating to his health has turned the corner & no longer carries this burden with him.

This is just from reading the course notes! Think how much they could achieve with a session with you or attending the one-day seminar!

I have already begun to research this whole subject thoroughly using your seminar & notes as my cornerstone.

It is my intention to try and bring this “concept” to as many people as possible, BECAUSE IT WORKS.

Once again Mark many thanks, these ideas should be taught in schools, the benefits to the individual & society in general would be immense.”

Peter Murray

Tuesday, 09 September 2008

Quantum Thinking In Tescos

More recently, between September 2020 to September 2022, I delivered a number of BTEC Level 3 Conflict Management Trainer Award Courses for Tescos.

Sixty-eight Tesco Managers attended the training overall.

As part of that training the morning session on Day 1 was a Quantum Thinking Session.

The following is the feedback from the training:

As you can see from the percentages below, the ‘Quantum Thinking’ session proved to be the most popular.

Q7: I found the following most beneficial
Unit 1: Safer and POP 59.09%
The Conflict Management Masterclass 59.09%
Unit 2: Quantum Thinking 72.73%
Unit 2: Learning Styles (Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic) 50%
Unit 2: Microteach (Roleplay) 59.09%
Unit 1: The importance of communication and barriers 63.64%
Unit 1: The Human Response (Fight, Flight, Freeze) 63.64%
Other: (Please specify) 4.55%

The Conclusion

The Quantum Thinking training (sometimes headed Personal Change Management Training) that we have provided for a number of large organisations and individuals, based on the evidence submitted above, works. 

Therefore, this training provides an excellent return on investment – not only for the organisation – but also for the individual on a personal, relationship and professional level as shown by the evidence presented.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of us running a course for you, please feel free to get in touch.

It may be the best thing you do for your staff this millenia!