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Apprentices and Mental Health

Decisions about what to do when leaving school can be stressful, but it’s important to make sure we think about which path will be the best fit for us, and the most beneficial. Could an apprenticeship be the right choice to help ensure a happy and healthy life?  

A study conducted by the New University of Sydney, found that young people transitioning from school into the workplace may benefit from the valuable social supports of quality apprenticeships, and improve their mental health.

The study also found that after therapies and medications, workspace places as the next (third) most significant aspect in supporting an individual’s well-being and mental welfare. It’s good to know then, that businesses employing apprentices are being encouraged to create ‘mentally healthy’ workplaces that are enjoyable to work in and increase the happiness and productivity of staff. As we spend about one-third of our day working (during the work-week), having a workplace you enjoy spending time in has huge implications for overall quality of life. 

How Can an Apprenticeship Improve Mental Health? 

An apprenticeship brings many benefits; earning regular income; gaining new skills; becoming proficient in a trade; establishing strong and supportive relationships, and gaining a sense of purpose and stability. Confidences gained from acquiring new skills and supports afforded by new social networks are both important resources to promote and encourage good overall mental health and well-being. 

The social ties and networks created with peers, colleagues, and mentors, bring great benefits. These are perhaps an apprentice’s biggest mental health resource. Friendships made between apprentices provide valuable peer-to-peer support, and provide a safe space to debrief, vent, and discuss any issues or problems they may be facing.

Perhaps the relationship that is most crucial is the one between employer and apprentice. Quality mentoring from a respected member of a trade is extremely valuable.

Further, to see a mentor or employer continue to happily invest in them and their training, an apprentice’s own sense of personal value may rise. 

As well as providing important relationships, apprenticeships are a great platform for gaining knowledge and skills, developing independence, and creating a sense of achievement. Learning all of the skills needed to master a trade, being productive in the workplace, and becoming a valued team-member can lift self-esteem, boost self-confidence, and provide a sense of purpose and self-worth. All of which help ensure a happy-head. 

Stigma and Tips

Though decreasing, stigma still surrounds mental health concerns, causing some sufferers to be reluctant to seek help. It has also been suggested there could be under-reporting of mental health concerns in the trades sector, particularly by younger workers, however,  it is always best to seek help earlier rather than later, and tackle any issues before they snowball and get out of hand.  

There are things you can do to maintain and boost your own mental health, such as; get sufficient sleep; take regular exercise; make nutritious food choices; engage in a new sport or hobby; interact with others; manage stress; and, lastly, seek help when needed. 

Here at Smart Employment Solutions, our Employment Officers are ready to assist where and when they can. If you need to discuss any concerns you may have, please call 13 30 24 and you will be directed to an Employment Officer, who can arrange a discussion with the most appropriate organisation like Mates in Construction, Life Line or Beyond Blue.


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